South China Sea, COVID-19 are the top reasons for the suspension of VFA - PHL envoy to US

South China Sea, COVID-19 are the top reasons for the suspension of VFA - PHL envoy to US




Some were a bit surprised when the Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, Jr. announced that the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States of America (USA) has been suspended.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) tthat the pandemic brought about by the novel coronavirus 2019 disease or COVID-19 and the ever changing volatile situation in the South China Sea were considered by the President in suspending the termination of the VFA.


Ambassador Romualdez said COVID-19 is a “major concern” with regards to the Visiting Forces Agreement. “As a matter of fact many of the Balikatan exercises had to be moved or cannot be implemented because of the pandemic,” he said.
The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), center, maneuvers alongside the Philippine navy landing platform dock (LPD) ship BRP Tarlac (LD 601) and offshore patrol vessel (OPV) BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS 16) in support of Balikatan 2019 in the South China Sea, April 5, 2019. (photo credit to owner)

“The political reason is there’s quite a number of things that are happening right now in the South China Sea, very clearly we see that,” he added.
“And so because of security issues and many things that are happening in that part of the world. Both our governments have seen that it would be prudent to suspend first any implementation of the termination,” Romualdez said.
The diplomatic note sent by Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin to the US Embassy in Manila was posted in his Twitter account which states that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is informing the US Embassy “that in light of political and other developments in the region, the termination of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the United States of America Regarding the Treatment of United States Forces Visiting the Philippines contained in Note No. 20-0463 dated 11 February 2020 is hereby suspended.”

“The suspension shall start on even date and shall continue for six months, which period is extendible by the Philippines for another six months, after which the tolling of the initial period in Note Verbale No. 20-0463 dated 11 February 2020 shall resume,” said in the diplomatic note.


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