Philippines, US considering new military pact: Report
A new military pact between the Philippines and the U.S. is reportedly under consideration.
The Defense Department was left “extremely concerned” after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has said he plans to step down later this year, ended the two-decade-old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) earlier this month.
Now, diplomats from both countries are looking for “ways and means to see how we can come up with something similar,” Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez said at a forum in Manila, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
From 1998 to 2020, the VFA had governed military cooperation between the Philippines and the U.S., but, earlier this month, a spokesman for Duterte said, “It’s about time we rely on ourselves. We will strengthen our own defenses and not rely on any other country.”
However, Romualdez said this week that “the door is not totally shut as far as we are concerned.”
“I am confident that our relationship with the United States will remain,” he added.
A newly formed agreement between the two nations reportedly could look more like the Philippines’ military relations with Australia and Japan.
Romualdez said a proposal to replace the terminated contract could be ready within the next two months.
Both countries have expressed interest in maintaining the U.S. forces stationed in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao for counterterrorism purposes.
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