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Palace: Philippines open to entering into visiting forces agreement with other countries

The Philippines is open to entering into military alliance with other countries as long as the terms of the agreement are beneficial to both nations, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said he heard from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that the United Kingdom is interested on the matter.

“Basta palaging pabor sa atin, basta kung mutual benefit to both countries, we are open,” Panelo told reporters.

“But the President, again, I will repeat, he said it’s about time we rely on ourselves. We will strengthen our own defenses and not rely on any other country,” he added.

Panelo’s comment comes after the Philippines, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, delivered the notice of termination of the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States upon the order of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999, the VFA governs the conduct of visiting US personnel holding military exercises in the Philippines.

Duterte had sought the termination of the VFA after the US canceled the visa of Senator Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, his close ally, reportedly over the former national police chief’s involvement in the deadly war on drugs.

The VFA would be deemed terminated upon a party's written notice of its intention to end the agreement, which becomes effective after 180 days from such notification.

The Palace earlier said the termination of the VFA would not affect the other military agreements with the US, including the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which allows greater US troops’ access to Philippine bases and presence in the country. —KBK, GMA News