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By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte will study the possibility of extending the suspension of the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement following the request of US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien for a longer suspension of at least a year to address concerns related to the troop agreement.

“Let’s just say that the President has taken note of the request of the US authorities and he will decide as chief architect of foreign policy,” Roque said in a televised briefing Tuesday.

Last November 11, the Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), held off for another six month the suspension of the VFA cancellation “to enable us to find a more enhanced, mutually beneficial, mutually agreeable, and more effective and lasting arrangement on how to move forward in our mutual defense.”

On February 11, DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. sent the US the formal notice to terminate the VFA, which was signed in February 1998.

Duterte decided to scrap the 20-year-old treaty citing the Americans’ alleged interference in the Philippines’ domestic affairs.

In June, the President suspended the VFA abrogation for six months, which is extendible by the Philippines for another half a year, due to the “vast and swiftly changing circumstances of the world, in the time of pandemic and heightened superpower tensions,” according to Locsin.

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