AFP Chief of Staff tells troops: 'Self-reliance' is light at end of VFA tunnel

AFP Chief of Staff tells troops: 'Self-reliance' is light at end of VFA tunnel

There is a silver lining in all that has happened.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff infront of his soldiers asked them to see the bigger picture of the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States of America (USA and that is it will them “self reliant.”

“It will make us self-reliant,” Santos told soldiers of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

(photo credit to owner)

“The President has decided to send a notice of termination of the VFA,” Santos said.

“I want everybody to know that this is the decision of the President and I want everybody to know that it will not affect us. Instead, it will make us self-reliant,” Santos said.

Santos in his speech said that he has talked with lawmakers regarding the situation and told them “that with the termination of the VFA, we really need their support to fill in the gaps.”

Earlier the Chief of Staff was quoted that around 300 joint activities between the AFP and the US military would either be postponed or cancelled with the abrogation of the VFA.

That officers based in Mindanao have expressed concern over the possible loss of US support on terms of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities against Islamic State followers still lurking in the region.

Santos call the act of President as a “political decision.”

He admits that the abrogation of the military accord “will create some gaps” in the country’s defense capability.

“‘We are not saying that there is no effect, but we could fill in the gaps,” Santos said.
He said that military exercises were beneficial to Philippine soldiers. Such activities are among those provided under the VFA.

“It enhances our skills with other countries, we have scenarios, but we could do that with other countries like Australia,” said Santos.

He said the Philippine government is pushing for a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Australia, South Korea and even Indonesia.

“We could bring their forces here to conduct actual exercises with our troops,” Santos said. “We need those,” he added.

But he said the friendship between the US and Philippine military “will never change” even without the VFA.

Santos explained that the AFP will continue to deal with the US for logistics “as some of our equipment are US-made, we have to get parts from them.”

“The friendship will be there, just like (what) we experienced in 1991. After the bases agreement expired, they left, but they are still here and we are conducting table top exercises,” said Santos.

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  Report from  PDI

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