US-donated vaccines possibly factored in keeping the VFA intact, according to Palace.
US-DONATED VACCINES — Malacañang on Monday said that President Rodrigo Duterte likely considered the United States’ generous COVID-19 vaccine donation in deciding to keep the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the Philippines’ longtime ally.
According to Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, President Duterte considered the totality of the recent situation and thorough assessment of the agreement based on the country’s national interest.
“The President considered the totality of the recent situation and thorough assessment [of the agreement] based on national interest. By considering the totality of the circumstances, there is a good possibility that it (COVID-19 vaccine donation) was factored in the situation,” Roque said of the recent Duterte order to keep the VFA after meeting US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Manila.
Citing records from the US Embassy in Manila, GMA News Online reported that the US government had so far donated at least 13.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the Philippines.
Of this number, 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses were donated via COVAX Facility, while the 3.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses were direct donation.
READ ALSO: President Duterte To Personally Welcome US-Donated COVID-19 Vaccines On August 3 — Año
Another 3 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by the US government were also expected to be delivered to the country on August 3, as announced by Roque.
The Visiting Forces Agreement was a 1999 military pact between the United States and the Philippines which allowed American forces to hold joint military exercises, counter intelligence training, and engage in humanitarian aid missions with their Filipino counterparts. However, the VFA prohibited US troops from engaging in combat operations.
Earlier, Roque said that maintaining the Visiting Forces Agreement was in accordance with the country’s national interest.
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