Trump on VFA abrogation: ‘Thank you, we will save a lot of money’

With a simple “Thank you”, US President Donald Trump agreed to the wish of the Philippine government to end the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

“You know my views are different from other people. I view it as. ‘Thank you very much, we’ll save a lot of money’,” said Trump. “If they (Philippines gov’t) would like to do that, that’s fine.”

The Philippines government on Tuesday scrapped the RP-US military accord that brought the ‘Balikatan’ military exercises to the country in the past years. The joint military exercises were held in the former US-run Clark Air Base and elsewhere in the country.

Trump’s statement runs counter with the claims of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday that US officials were trying to keep the military accord. “I’ll make it public because public official ako. Si Trump pati yung others are trying to save the Visiting Forces Agreement. Sabi ko, ayaw ko. One is that, napakabastos na yung Amerikano. Talagang sobrang bastos,” said Duterte.

The VFA termination which took effect in 1999 came in the face of China’s incursions in the South China Sea. The Philippines government has maintain good bilateral relationships with China and Russia.

The RP-US bilateral relations apparently soured after the US government cancelled the US visa of former police chief and now Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa. The senator was the PNP chief at the start of the government’s all-out war against illegal drugs that claimed the lives of thousands.

The military accord is still in effect for 180 days from the day of its termination.

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