Decision on Philippine ties with US to be known in November


/ 12:32 PM October 19, 2016
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. AP File Photo

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The decision of the Philippines whether or not to terminate its bilateral agreements with the United States such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca), would be known during a Cabinet meeting next month, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana disclosed on Wednesday.

Lorenzana made this disclosure when Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon inquired about the status of of Edca and other military defense agreements with the US during the former’s confirmation hearing at the Commission on Appointments’ committee on national defense.

“Is there a decision to terminate them, suspend them…? Drilon asked.

“Mr. Chairman, I specifically asked for guidance from the President on that. I asked him to give guidance on the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement), the US troops in Mindanao, the exercises next year and the Edca and he told me to present this during a Cabinet meeting next month, I think November 4 or 7,” the defense official said.

“So we’re actually preparing this presentation because he said I will need the inputs of the Cabinet to make a decision. So as of now, Sir, there’s no decision to suspend… Edca is still on, the VFA is still on…” he said.

But if he were to ask, Lorenzana said he would recommend the “scaling down” of the military exercises next year, given President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncements against them.

While the exercises were beneficial to the Philippines, he said the “Americans benefit more from these exercises than us.”

Drilon then asked again why the Philippines would terminate the said exercises when they were beneficial to both nations.

“Mr. Chairman, I really don’t know because the President has been issuing this statement without first consulting the Cabinet,” Lorenzana said.

Apparently surprised by the response, Drilon praised the nominee for being candid.

“At least the gentleman, our nominee is very honest, very candid and I will vote for his immediate confirmation. But honestly, he’s a gentleman who just would tell this Commission the truth and what is in his mind and I certainly admire him for that,” said the senator.

Drilon clarified again whether or not the Philippines was planning to terminate the military agreements with the US.

“I will have to wait until the presentation of the Cabinet meeting, Sir and maybe we will get the decision from the President if he really wants the Edca to be terminated,” Lorenzana said.

“So at this point that we’re talking, the termination of these long-standing agreements is still at the table?” Drilon asked again to which Lorenzana answered yes. RAM

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