The Philippines has once again suspended its decision to end its longstanding military pact with the United States and get all American troops out of the country.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin released a statement on Twitter saying Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had instructed him to convey “his decision to extend the suspension of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement by yet another 6 months.”

The Foreign Ministry’s statement laid out how delaying the cancellation would allow the Philippines and US to “find a more enhanced, mutually beneficial, mutually agreeable and more effective and lasting arrangement.”

SFA @teddyboylocsin Statement on VFA Extension. Read full statement here:

The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the two nations came into effect in 1999, allowing the US to station troops at five military bases and participate in joint training and military exercises with Philippine forces.

Duterte has been vocal about his opposition to US forces in the region and has called for America to withdraw all troops from the Philippines, accusing them of interfering in the country’s foreign policy. Instead of fostering the long-term alliance with America, shortly after taking office, Duterte announced his “separation” from the US and stated he was realigning the country with China. Declaring that “America has lost,” he laid out plans for Beijing and Manila to work together on increasing military and economic cooperation.

Earlier this year, Duterte notified Washington DC that Manilla would be cancelling the deal, following a dispute over the United States denying a senator a visa. America refused entry to Duterte’s ally and former national police chief Senator Ronald dela Rosa in January 2020, after he was blacklisted over allegations he was involved in extrajudicial killings as part of the country’s drug war. 

Duterte previously delayed the decision to end the pact in June without explaining his reasoning, only saying that it came “in light of political and other developments in the region.”

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