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Keep VFA, lawmaker urges Duterte

DEPUTY Speaker and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez is appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to maintain the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States.

In a statement, Rodriguez expressed belief that most Filipinos want stronger ties between the two governments.

“The President wants to feel the public pulse on the VFA. I think most Filipinos not only support the agreement but want the government to strengthen Philippine-US relations,” Rodriguez said.

Among those who wanted to retain the VFA are Rodriguez’ constituents who are voicing sentiments in support of forging closer ties with the US.

“Our people have a natural affinity with America, not only because of our decades of partnership but also because of our close cultural and social ties,” he said.

“America is also home for millions of Filipinos,” he added.

The House leader observed that Filipinos trust America to honor its commitments to the Philippines, including those under the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty.

Likewise, Rodriguez pointed out despite the Duterte administration’s foreign policy pivot to China, Filipinos consider the US as a more reliable ally in all aspects of foreign relations.

“In contrast, they do not trust the Chinese, especially in the wake of their aggressive activities in the West Philippine Sea and inside our 200-mile exclusive economic zone, most of which Beijing illegally claims as part of its territorial waters,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, he supported the President’s suggestion that the United States should extend more military and economic assistance to the Philippines in the event the VFA is maintained.

“It’s a reasonable proposal. The President wants fair treatment, comparable to what America is giving its other allies in this part of the world,” Rodriguez said.