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VFA termination leads to more Chinese presence in West Philippine sea — analyst

The country has further invited Chinese presence by terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), said GMA resident political analyst Richard Heydarian.

He issued the statement withthe recent reports of the presence of Chinese militia vessels near islands in the West Philippine Sea.

Last week, CSIS-Asia Maritime Transparency Institute Director Gregory Poling warned the Philippine government that militia vessels were "guarding" the Pag-asa Island.

"China has been deploying dozens, sometimes up to a hundred, militia vessels from nearby Subi Reef to keep an eye on Philippine operations in Pag-asa, sometimes to prevent vessels from getting to Pag-asa," he said. 

In a Tuesday report on Stand for Truth, Heydarian claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte wanted to assert Philippine Independence but failed to recognize China as a potential threat.

"In fact, multiple times sinabi pa nga ni Duterte, 'I love China, I love Xi Jinping.' In fact, para kay Pangulong Duterte, we have to be meek and humble para makuha natin 'yung mercy ng China," Heydarian said.

"In effect, we're inviting more Chinese presence into our areas, into our Exclusive Economic Zone, and the West Philippine Sea, by distancing ourselves from our allies, no matter how questionable our alliances with the US were," he added.

According to Heydarian, the country's defensive capabilities have decreased while those of China has "exponentially" increased due to the termination.

"The reality is that since pinaalis natin yung mga American bases since 1992 up to today, ang laki nung gap natin in terms of our defensive capabilities habang yung sa China exponentially nag-increased," he said. — Joahna Lei Casilao/BAP, GMA News