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Lorenzana: Philippines can terminate VFA even without Senate nod

The Philippine government may terminate its Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States even without the concurrence of the country's lawmakers, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Friday.

Lorenzana, the vice chairman of the Philippine Commission on the VFA, said the termination of the treaty ratified by the Senate in 1999 could be "unilaterally initiated by the Philippines"

"The termination of the VFA may be unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, and it is well within the right of the Philippine government to do so if it determines that the agreement no longer redounds to our national interest," Lorenzana said.

"Such a termination does not need the approval of the Philippine Congress. All that is required is that a notice of termination be served to the US government. The termination shall take effect 180 days after the date of the notice," he added.

Lorenzana said he was in "constant consultations with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin."

Locsin as the secretary of foreign affairs is the chairman of the VFA commission.

"I will discuss with the President the various scenarios concerning the possible termination of the VFA and what future actions may be undertaken by the DND and AFP regarding this matter," Lorenzana said.

Duterte on Thursday said he would terminate the VFA if the US would not restore Senator Ronald Dela Rosa's visa.

Dela Rosa earlier this week said the US embassy in Manila confirmed to him that his visa had indeed been canceled.

No reason was given but the US federal budget for 2020 contains a provision banning the entry into the US of Philippine officials linked to the detention of Senator Leila De Lima.

De Lima is detained on drug charges but human rights groups have pointed to her detention as a case of political persecution.

The Duterte administration has denied the allegations, stressing the judicial processes that led to De Lima's arrest and detention. —NB, GMA News