SUSPENDING the termination of a military pact with the US on the deployment of troops for war games will give the Philippines more time to review relations with its former colonizer, a senate leader said on Thursday.
“It’s a good move while the Executive department is reviewing the pros and cons of the agreement, especially our defense relationship,” Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III told reporters in a Viber group message.
Presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque on Wednesday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte might invoke the second suspension of the termination of the visiting forces agreement (VFA).
Mr. Duterte in February notified the US he would end the two-decade-old defense pact after the US Embassy canceled the visa of Senator Ronald M. dela Rosa, his former police chief who led his deadly war on drugs.
The termination was suspended for six months in June amid a coronavirus pandemic and heightened tensions in the Asia-Pacific region. This may be extended for another six months.
Mr. Sotto sought changes to the VFA, which he said should contain a cause that obligates the US to define the Philippines against external threats.
Also on Thursday, Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda said a potential Joe Biden presidency in the US would restore closer ties between the two countries.
Joseph R. Biden would likely veer away from US President Trump’s “America First” policy and return to multilateralism.
“This bodes well for the Philippines’ access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Salceda said a Biden presidency would ease the deadlock on America’s stimulus talks as the Democratic Party is projected to keep control of the US Congress. This is good for the Philippines because the US is a major trade partner and investment source, he added.
“Biden is more open to multilateral trade deals than Trump has been,” Mr. Salceda said. “A shift from Trump’s hardline stance on trade will open opportunities for trade deals with the US.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza