United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said it is “unfortunate” that the Philippines have to do such move at a time wherein US and other PH allies are in an effort to push China from following international norms.
Washington’s top defense official added that the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement is a “move to the wrong direction”, citing that this could lead to a more aggressive military presence of China in the West Philippine Sea.
“And as we try and, you know, bolster our presence and compete with them in this era of great power competition, I think it’s a move in the wrong direction for — for, again, for the longstanding relationship we’ve had with the Philippines for their strategic location, the ties between our peoples, our countries,” he told reporters while en route to Europe.
Esper also said that they already received the notice from Malacañang and will be processing and taking it “one day at a time”.
Duterte moved to junk the military agreement with US after Trump signed an order that barred Philippine officials including Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, former PNP chief from entering the US.
It can be remembered that the President gave America a month to reverse the cancellation of US visas last January 24 otherwise VFA will be scrapped.
He then revealed on Monday that Donald Trump urged him to save the agreement but he denied the proposal.