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Philippines foreign secretary defends US security act after Duterte threat

Philippines foreign secretary defends US security act after Duterte threat

The Philippines’ foreign secretary warned on Thursday that abrogating a security accord with Washington would undermine his country’s security and “foster aggression” in the disputed South China Sea. The warning came after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened last month to give notice to the US to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement if the reported visa cancellation of his political ally, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, was not corrected within a month.

The accord, known as VFA, took effect in 1999 to provide legal cover for the entry of American forces to the Philippines for joint training with Filipino troops.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. used a televised Senate hearing to enumerate what he described as crucial security, trade and economic benefits the accord provides, AP reports.

The US is a longtime treaty ally, a major trading partner and the largest development aid provider to the Philippines. “The continuance of the agreement is deemed to be more beneficial to the Philippines compared to any predicates were it to be terminated,” Locsin said.