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Lorenzana: Duterte didn't seem keen to end VFA with US

President Rodrigo Duterte did not appear determined to end the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the United States, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Friday.

In an interview with GMA resident analyst Richard Heydarian on "Stand for Truth", Lorenzana said Duterte would have allowed the VFA termination to proceed if he was serious in ending the treaty.

"He suspended the effectivity of the termination twice. And we're facing an election in 10 months time," Lorenzana said when asked if the restoration of the VFA was the result of the recent uptick in vaccine donations from the US.

"And ako, playing at the back of my mind, sabi ko, mukhang hindi naman seryoso si Presidente na i-terminate 'yung VFA because otherwise he should have let the 180 days lapse and then wala na, tapos na, 'di ba?" he added.

[Personally, playing at the back of my mind, I said it seemed that the President was not serious in terminating the VFA. Otherwise he should have let the 180 days lapse and then it's done.]

Duterte in February 2020 ordered that the US be given notice of the Philippines' abrogation of the VFA a few months after the superpower cancelled the US visa of former PNP chief and Senator Ronald Dela Rosa.

He, however, suspended the abrogation process a few times in 2020. 

Lorenzana on July 30 announced that had ordered Philippine officials to take back from the US the termination of the VFA.

The secretary made the announcement a day after Duterte met US Secretary of State Lloyd Austin in Malacanang.

"That will be the impression of other people, even the President believed that binibigyan tayo ng vaccine because of some issues between the two countries especially with the VFA," said of the the US vaccine donations resulting in Duterte's softened stance versus the VFA.

"There must be some truth to that. But I think the Americans, marami na silang surplus ngayon, so they have vaccinated most of the people so they can afford to be generous to the world," he added.

[The Americans already have a huge surplus. ]

Lorenzana is hoping that the US donations through the COVAX facility would continue not just for the Philippines.

"So the President has said he's recalled, retracted the [VFA termination] because of the vaccines that US is giving us," Lorenzana said. —NB, GMA News

NOTE: Watch out for Richard Heydarian's full interview with Secretary Delfin Lorenzana tonight on Stand for Truth.