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Lacson: Mutual Defense Treaty with US is useless without VFA

The Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States will be useless once the Visiting Forces Agreement is terminated after 180 days, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday.

Lacson made the comment after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin, Jr. signed the notice of termination of the VFA on Tuesday.

The MDT was signed by the Philippines and US in 1951 where both parties agreed that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either the Philippines or the US would be dangerous and that they would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.

The VFA, on the other hand, took effect in 1999 after being ratified by the Philippine Senate. It allows US troops to train and advise the Philippine military in disaster response and its fight against terrorists. However under the VFA, US forces are not allowed to take part in combat operations.

Article 9 of the VFA also reads: “This agreement shall remain in force until the expiration of 180 days from the date on which either party gives the other party notice in writing that it desires to terminate the agreement.”

“Like it or not, bad or good, nothing much can be done now but do a 180-day countdown upon receipt of the notice by Washington. What is certain is that the Mutual Defense Treaty will now be reduced to a mere paper treaty as far as the US is concerned,” Lacson, a former Philippine National Police chief, said in a statement.

“Having said that, there’s no more intelligence information sharing in our fight against domestic and foreign terrorist acts, no more US military aid and financing accounting for a good 52% of what they extend to the whole Asia-Pacific region,” Lacson added.

The senator also said the country will lose other intangible economic benefits and security from external threats in the West Philippine Sea.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, for his part, stressed that it is President Rodrigo Duterte who will be ultimately responsible for his actions.

“Whether or not we are ready for the impact is for the President to consider in the course of his decision making. This is a political decision and he is political leader, and he will hold himself responsible to the people,” Drilon said in a separate interview.

Locsin, during a Senate hearing last week, said the MDT will be a deflated balloon without VFA.

President Duterte threatened to terminate the VFA last month in light of the cancellation of the US visa of his trusted ally, Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.

Dela Rosa's visa was canceled after the US government passed a federal budget banning US entry for those involved in the prosecution of Senator Leila de Lima for drug-related charges.

The US government has described de Lima’s imprisonment as unjust prosecution. —KG, GMA News