United States military personnel can continue to enjoy a warm reception on Philippines soil —for now —after the Philippines suspended the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. for at least six months.
Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin Jr. announced the decision on Tuesday, saying he relayed the development to U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim.
“The abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement has been suspended upon the President’s instruction,” Locsin posted on his Twitter account.
The diplomatic note stated the six-month suspension can be extended for another six months, before the termination can resume.
The decision came after President Rodrigo Duterte instructed to formally terminate the longtime military agreement last February 11 after weeks of hitting out at the U.S. for a handful of issues, including the U.S. government’s hesitation to renew an aid package for the Philippines, and recently the United States’ decision to cancel the visa of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa last January.
For now, U.S. forces can continue to enjoy the benefits of the VFA, which mainly allows U.S. government to retain jurisdiction of its military personnel accused of committing crimes in the Philippines, and exempts them from visa and passport regulations in the country.