What’s revisiting VFA all about
The nation awaits anxiously the outcome of the proposed renegotiation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States.
It is expected that after the extensive and intensive review of the 10-year old VFA, certain lopsided provisions of the agreement in favour of the Americans shall be corrected for the benefit of Filipinos.
VFA renegotiation has been a foregone conclusion since US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. expressed recently his government’s willingness to revisit the controversial treaty which has been the object of many demonstrations calling for its abrogation.
But its abrogation which was also advocated by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is now out of the question after the Philippines has opted for VFA review or re-negotiation to give way to fine-tuning of certain provisions which are disadvantageous to Filipinos.
It is the stand of both countries to follow the diplomatic process in amending any of the provision of the VFA, a source of military assistance the Philippines needs to cope with growing threat of global terror. Only recently, the VFA made possible for the US to give $104.2 million to the Philippines this year which is more than the assistance given to any country is Southeast Asia.
VFA was the mechanism by which US forces could visit and train in the Philippines and allow Filipino to visit and study in the United States.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. who heads the VFA Commission was tasked to undertake the VFA internal review to see what provisions can be removed or retained. The commission shall make its recommendations after which the Philippine government shall notify formally the US for a re-negotiation of VFA.
One of the controversial provisions of the treaty which the Philippines is expected to move for its deletion if not amendment is the custody of erring US soldiers here which must be given in favour of the Philippines.
Other issues must also be identified first before both parties sit at the re-negotiation table, such as–.
1) The kind of activities the US military may undertake with the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the duration of such exercises which must be temporary.
2) How shall the VFA be treated? Is it a treaty or just an executive agreement? The Philippines considered it as a treaty and was duly ratified by the Philippine Senate, the United States considered it merely an executive agreement because it did not send the VFA to the US Senate for ratification.
CLINTON BACKS BIG POPULATION FOR PH
Former President Billy Clinton surprised everybody here when he advocated bigger population for the Philippines which he called the “wealth of your nation”. He said the country can sustained it because of your vast natural resources.
Advocates of population control who have been batting for the passage of Reproductive Health Bill headed by Rep. Edcel Lagman reacted sharply to “Mr. Clinton’s passing statement in a speech he delivered at the Manila Hotel by saying the former president of the US was not sincere in this compliment to Filipino.
Mr. Clinton must have read during his brief stay in Manila the full page ad of a group opposed to the approval of a proposed legislation aimed at curbing over-population. In a nutshell, the advertisement said that “corruption, lack of education and lack of opportunity cause poverty. HB 96 more commonly known as the Reproductive Health Bill blames poverty on the presence of too many poor people. Cornelio de Guzman