Press Release
August 28, 2009

Loren backs probe of reported VFA 'violations'

Senator Loren Legarda stressed yesterday that any violation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), including the possibility of American soldiers playing active roles in military operations in the Philippines, must be investigated.

"Violations of the terms and provisions of the VFA, if true, should warrant its scrapping," said Loren, one of the original senators who opposed the ratification of the VFA when it was presented before the Senate a decade ago.

She said reports of alleged involvement by US troops in military operations in the Philippines persist and are lent credence by photographs showing American soldiers engaged in such activities as patrolling and or securing areas in Jolo, Sulu where aid grants had been distributed.

"There is a thin line between going into patrol and actual battle as far as these American soldiers are concerned. The photos showed them fully armed and being in harm's way, meaning they could have easily found themselves in a firefight."

Loren said that the governments of the Philippines and the US must strictly follow the provisions of the VFA because any violation would infringe on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines.

"When I opposed the VFA, it was because the government cannot allow foreign forces to be operating in our country," she said. "We have more than enough able personnel from the AFP and the PNP to take care of ensuring our internal security."

Loren said that, at most, US soldiers who are in the Philippines under the VFA must engage only in training exercises and advisory activities.

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