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DFA chief: Let's stop whining over PH scrapping of VFA.

After the Philippines formally notified the US of its intent to end a more than two-decade-old military agreement, Manila's top diplomat said it was now time to 'stop whining' and 'pay our own way to our own sovereign defense.'

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said this over Twitter on Thursday after Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Philippines should not keep on relying on the Western power in terms of strengthening the country's defense.

'Let's stop whining. We look weak if not fairy-like to potential aggressors in Southeast Asia,' Locsin said.

Let's stop whining. We look weak if not fairy-like to potential aggressors in Southeast Asia. Our boys have fought our wars with not much in their hands; let our officials honour them by talking tough on their behalf against potential aggressors not former allies. https://t.co/yAkiuyZat0

'Our boys have fought our wars with not much in their hands; let our officials honour them by talking tough on their behalf against potential aggressors not former allies,' he added.

The foreign affairs chief said the Philippines should stand on its own feet when it comes to defending its sovereignty.

'President is right. No more VFA's [Visiting Forces Agreement] even w[ith] other countries. We stand by our own guns by buying our own w a defense budget commensurate to the threats to our sovereignty,' Locsin said.

President is right. No more VFA's even w other countries. We stand by our own guns by buying our own w a defense budget commensurate to the threats to our sovereignty. Anyone suggests alternative VFAs with potential aggressors gets slapped by me. US will never be a threat. https://t.co/SRY02qqXKp

'Anyone suggests alternative VFAs with potential aggressors gets slapped by me. US will never be a threat,' he added.

Termination notice signed, sent

Locsin had earlier told a Senate foreign relations inquiry that the abrogation of the military pact would 'negatively impact' the overall relations of the Philippines and US.

The country's top diplomat also informed senators of risks of the termination of the accord to the country's defense, security and counter-terrorism efforts.

At the time of last week's hearing, Locsin said that while he has yet to send the VFA termination notice to the US, he would do so upon the 'direct personal order of the President and no one else.'

And send he did.

On Feb. 11, Locsin signed and sent to the US Embassy in Manila the notice to terminate the VFA.

The VFA, ratified by the Senate in 1999, governs the US troops' conduct of military exercises in the Philippines.

The US government now has 180 days from the day of receipt to renegotiate or not the Philippines' decision to scrap the said defense pact.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier threatened to abrogate the VFA-created a legal framework for the presence of US troops in the Philippines and for organizing joint military exercises-over the visa cancelation of his prominent ally Senator Ronald 'Bato' dela Rosa.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper already called as a move in the 'wrong direction' the abrogation of the defense agreement.

A top US military officer also said that the VFA termination could hamper the counter-terrorism efforts in Mindanao.

However, US President Donald Trump shrugged off the repeal of the VFA, saying it was 'fine' and could even save the US a lot of money.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Feb 13, 2020
Words:670
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