Ex-DND chief says AFP realizes it needed VFA with US

Ex-DND chief says AFP realizes it needed VFA with US

The political decision of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between Manila and Washington has put the Philippine military in a position of uncertainties.
Former Department of National Defense Orlando Mercado during the administration of President Joseph Estrada has just given a different take on the matters on hand.

Mercado who is also a former senator made public that he met with officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and he was able to get the common sentiment among the officers as regards the VFA to which the AFP as an organization needs it more than ever.
(photo credit to owner)

Mercado got the sentiment in a meeting of the advisory board of the military’s Education, Training and Doctrine Command Unit.
“The military, in our meeting yesterday, truly realizes the need for the VFA,” he said.

The former senator recalled telling the officers that while the Philippine Senate in 1991 rejected a treaty extending the stay of US military bases in the Philippines, the chamber did not go as far as abrogating the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), the mother of all defense pacts between the Philippines and United States.

Among the most key provisions of the MDT was one that mandated the Philippines or the United States to come to each other’s aid in case of external attacks on either country.

He was one of the  senators who voted to reject the bases treaty extension.
The information shared by Mercado is the complete opposite of the AFP, to which the latter issued a statement that it was ready to tread the path of self-reliance in a post VFA scenario and would survive the absence of any US military assistance.
“We can survive; we will; we should,” said AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo in the statement.

Mercado sees the current situation as an opportunity to redefine the relationship of PH and US militaries.
“We can turn this bad thing into a good thing…to be able to realistically carve a new relationship with an ally and our only treaty ally,” Mercado explains.

The Philippine government sent its official notice to termiate the VFA to the US government last Feb. 11, upon the direct orders of President Duterte. It will take effect after 180 days or six months.

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Report from PDI

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