President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that the United States’ COVID-19 vaccine donations influenced his decision to rescind the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
During his regular Monday briefing on August 2, the president expressed his gratitude for Washington’s donation. Calling his move to recall the termination a “concession,” the president said he "conceded the continuance of the Visiting Forces Agreement in gratitude.”
Duterte also thanked US President Joe Biden for providing the vaccines.
“I’d like to thank the President of the United States, si Biden, the government and the people of America for not forgetting us,” he said.
He noted the two countries’ similar stance in international politics. “Do not forget us because we share the same outlook sa (in) geopolitics, especially in Southeast Asia,” he added.
In July, the US donated 3.2 million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine to the Philippines through the COVAX facility. This month, the Philippines is set to receive another three million doses from the US.
While Duterte failed to attend the Johnson & Johnson vaccines arrival ceremony last month, he is expected to accept the Moderna donation this Tuesday (August 4).
Following the president’s meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III last week, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced that Duterte had recalled the abrogation of the Manila-Washington pact which establishes the legal foundation for US forces to conduct war exercises and other joint activities in the country.
Duterte's move put an end to more than a year of speculation over the agreement’s fate.
Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.