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Philippines notifies US to end Visiting Forces Agreement

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US and Filipino soldiers participate in the Amphibious Landing training as part of the 2018 Balikatan Exercises between the Philippines and the United States in Zambales Province, the Philippines, on May 9, 2018. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

MANILA (Xinhua) – The Philippines has officially notified the United States about the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between Manila and Washington, Philippines’s top diplomat said on Tuesday.

“The Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the United States has received the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement. As a diplomatic courtesy there will be no further factual announcements following this self-explanatory development,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin tweeted.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo confirmed the Philippines’ move to end the military agreement that allows US forces to conduct large-scale joint military exercises in the Philippines.

Panelo said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte directed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Monday night to tell Locsin to send the notice of termination to the US government.

Panelo told a news conference that the termination process will begin “180 days from the receipt of the notice of the termination.”

“The effectivity of (the notice of termination) will be 180 days from the receipt of the US government of such notice,” he said.

“From what I read from the agreement there is no need for the (reply of the US government). There’s no response needed,” Panelo said, adding Duterte can terminate the VFA himself.

Duterte decided to scrap VFA after the US cancelled the visa of Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, Duterte’s longtime aide, over Dela Rosa’s role in the war on drugs when he was Philippine National Police chief.

Moreover, Duterte was offended by calls of some US senators to free detained Senator Leila de Lima, who has been detained over drug-related charges since February 2017.

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