MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte put the United States government on notice on Saturday that he would continue with the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) if it could not provide the Philippines with its COVID-19 vaccines.
In a meeting with Cabinet members and infectious disease experts in Malacañang, Duterte demanded at least 20 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from the US to stop the termination of the VFA.
“Iyong Visiting Forces Agreement, matatapos na. Ngayon kapag hindi ako pumayag aalis talaga sila. Kung hindi sila makadeliver ng maski minimum of mga 20 million (doses) of vaccines, ah they better get out,” Duterte said.
(The Visiting Forces Agreement will expire…If they can’t deliver at least a minimum of about 20 million (doses) of vaccines, they better get out.)
“No vaccine, no stay here,” he added.
Duterte ordered the termination of the VFA last February in response to the revocation of the US visa of Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, his former police chief who led his brutal war on drugs.
In June, the Philippines backtracked from the termination that was supposed to take effect in August due to “political and other developments in the region.” The suspension “shall continue for 6 months.”
Last month, the Philippine government suspended the effectivity of the VFA termination but negotiations continue for a long-term arrangement.
The VFA, signed in 1998, accorded legal status to US troops who were rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.
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