Press Release
June 3, 2020

Tolentino lauds resumption of VFA

Administration Senator Francis "Tol" Tolentino lauded President Duterte for his decision to temporarily shelve the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (DFA) with the United States, saying it "imparts a glimpse of his sincere dedication to the welfare of the nation."

In a privilege speech on Wednesday, Tolentino commended Duterte, for keeping his judgment anchored on the supremacy of national interest and affirming his resolve to safeguard the life and liberty of the Filipino people.

"Flexibility is at the heart of effective leadership, and effective leadership is central to good governance," said Tolentino.

On Tuesday night (June 2), Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin announced that Duterte opted to to suspend the termination of the VFA, a defense agreement that allows American troops to conduct joint training with their Filipino counterparts.

Tolentino said the move was a display of Duterte's humility as he gave weight to the long history of alliance and strong relations between the Philippines and the United States.

"This decision of the President is perhaps akin to adjusting his sail, so to speak, in order to be able to navigate his ship through dangerous waters, having premised his decision on 'prevailing political and other developments in the region,'" he stressed.

The decision will also help further solidify the bond of friendship between the Philippines and the United States, "a pact forged by the blood of our forefathers for the peace and security in the country and the region", he said.

He added that Duterte's decision should be placed alongside other significant events in Philippine history that occurred on the month of June, such as the signing of the peace treaty between Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, representing King Philip II of Spain, and Rajah Tupas of Cebu on June 4, 1565.

June 1945 was also a crucial period in the history when Gen. Douglas MacArthur led the liberation of the Philippines from the hands of the Japanese forces.

For the time being, Tolentino said the temporary shelving of the VFA termination opens up a multitude of fresh opportunities, which helps strengthen national security and deter threats from outside our boundaries.

Also, Duterte's decision will foster more strengthened bond of friendship between the Philippines and the United States as the world enters a "new normal" amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

During his speech, Tolentino underscored the oldest principle of international law -- "pacta sunt servanda" or "agreements must be kept" - which he claimed depends heavily on the commitment of the signatories to these agreements.

"Without such doctrine, international agreements would lose their binding effect," he emphasized.

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