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VFA abrogation to affect ASEAN neighbor countries —ex-UN envoy

The termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the US will not only have effects on the country, but also some of its neighboring states in the Southeast Asian region.

Former Ambassador to the United Nations Lauro Baja made the remark on Sunday in reaction to President Rodrigo Duterte's threat to terminate the VFA if the US will not restore the canceled visa of Senator Ronald Dela Rosa.

In an interview on Dobol B sa News TV aired on GMA News TV, Baja said the VFA also has a "strategic importance" to the neighboring ASEAN states like Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

"We must also consider the strategic importance ng so-called disagreement. Because some of our ASEAN neighbors and some of our allies would also like the presence of US in the area for stability," he said.

Apart from that, Baja said the VFA does not only deal with security matters, but also with the economic relations between the US and the Philippines.

"Hindi lang naman ito ang cornerstone ng ating relations. [It includes] economics, people to people ties, which we have known through the years," he said.

Baja, however, believes that the termination of the VFA will not necessarily end other existing relations between the Philippines and the US.

"It will affect the relations but it will not be that existential relations between the US and the Philippines," he said.

The Philippines has already started the process of terminating its the VFA as ordered by Duterte, Malacañang said Friday.

Ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999, the VFA is deemed terminated upon a party's written notice of its intention to end the agreement, which becomes effective after 180 days from such notification.

On the other hand, the US Senate has not ratified the military agreement so far.  —Erwin Colcol/LBG, GMA News