Philippines will not shift military alliances to other countries, after VFA termination—Secretary Panelo

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Malacañang has reiterated on Friday that  the Philippine government will not shift military alliances to other countries, following the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo revealed in an interview with CNN Philippines that  the Philippines will not forge military alliances with other nations, not even with China.

Panelo said it is about time for the country to rely on its own resources.

“Hindi shifting alliances, tinatanggal natin ‘yung alliances natin. On our own na nga, sarili na nga eh,” Panelo.

Panelo also serves as President Rodrigo Duterte’s legal counsel.

“Wala lahat sila, tinanong ko si Presidente,” he said.

Panelo had earlier said the government may consider entering into VFAs with other countries, following the scrapping of the Philippines two-decade military pact with the United States.

Panelo  said  future agreements will be based on fairness and mutual benefit.

He said  that some countries, including the United Kingdom, already have standing offers on the table.

However, this time around, Panelo said the Philippines should strengthen its military capabilities first from within.

“It is about time we stand on our own two feet. We cannot be relying on other countries to defend our nation from the enemies of the state… We have to strengthen our own resources,” Panelo said.

Duterte’s threat to junk the VFA came in response to the US’ cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s US visa.

Dela Rosa, known to have close ties with Duterte, acknowledged that the revocation of his visa may have something to do with alleged extrajudicial killings under his watch as chief of the Philippine National Police from 2016 to 2018.

With the formal termination of the VFA on the table, Panelo said other military deals— including MDT and EDCA— may soon follow suit.

“Ganoon na rin siguro, maaapektuhan, tatamaan din ‘yun. Which means baka mawala na rin ‘yun,” Panelo said of the two agreements.

“Kung ‘yun ang posisyon ni presidente na hindi na niya kailangan ng alliances sa iba. At tumayo na tayo nang sarili natin, talagang mawawala lahat ‘yan,” he said.

Panelo said  that future financial grant or aid from the United States may be in peril due to the termination of agreement.

He said that the government will already start purchasing resources— including high-quality weapons— to enhance capabilities of the local forces.

The VFA is the first of two agreements between Washington and Manila about the treatment of their troops when they are in the US or the Philippines.

Signed  in 1998, the agreement  includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops, and rights of US government to retain jurisdiction over military personnel, among others./Stacy Ang

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