MANILA — The Senate foreign relations committee will be reviewing on Thursday next week the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to terminate it.
“Nag-meeting ang committee on foreign relations, ang sentimyentong lumabas ay kailangang mag-formal hearing na po ang committee on the VFA or matters related to it specially in relation to the latest pronouncement of the President that he is possibly terminating it after 30 days,” Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said.
Pimentel said the committee will also tackle during the hearing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and Mutual Defense Treaty, both with the United States, and visiting forces agreement with Australia.
“We will review the VFA, anyway nakasulat din naman sa agreement ang kanyang periodic review and then meron kasing theory that VFA is an implementation of the MDT so isama na natin. Since EDCA is an adjunct of MDT, isama na rin natin,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel said they want to know the material, intelligence, logistical benefits the Philippines receives from VFA, its status, how it is being implemented, the timeline, what is the structure and protocol, problems and violations of the law committed, and the national interests at stake.
Pimentel said after the hearing, a committee report will be submitted to the plenary for deliberations.
“Mag-plenary debates ulit kami sa discussion over the report. If the direction of the plenary is to submit a copy of the report to the executive department for their guidance gagawin namin,” he said.
Pimentel said he expects to give the Senate report to Malacanang before March.
“It’s a review… Not just to see the monetary, physical benefits but also the intellectual, defense and other benefits we have been getting… We want to see if it is still aligned with national interest,” he said.
Senators also want to know if there have been problems in the implementation of the agreements and how these issues were handled, he said. (Stacy Ang/IAMIGO/CPH)