House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III has cautioned on prioritizing on an option to increase the number of US troops on Philippine soil amid increasing tensions over disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“What we should do is have a sober review the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) considering the questions on our very own national integrity given the VFA’s provisions,” Tañada said.
Sino-US relations and the War on Terrorism are two of the most cited theories by analysts as to why the US has continued its presence in the Philippines, but Tañada says “these are issues that should be dealt with by formulating a rational foreign policy with only the welfare of our nation in mind, which we cannot do by being beholden to the United States.”
“I don’t see any real gains with the VFA that we could not achieve without it. We’ve managed to maintain a good economic relationship with China, but this is because we have such a long history of trading with them and because of our vibrant Chinese community,” Tañada said.
The House Deputy Speaker also said “it is ironical that while we attach national integrity to our claim on some islands in the Spratlys, we seem unmindful when it comes to options allowing US military presence on Philippine soil for one reason or another when the same also compromises our national integrity.”
The Deputy Speaker noted that junking the VFA will not result in a complete break with the United States.
“I am sure we can continue our history of amity, but we definitely need another way to give it expression,” adding, “we can give them a hand, and we should–we’ve always been friends. But I don’t see why we should give them the whole arm.”