- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The government of the Philippines has paused its move to end a security pact with the U.S. that allowed American troops to train in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year threatened to cancel the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) if a ruling to cancel the U.S. visa of his political ally, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, was not reversed.

The pact authorizes the entry of a significant number of U.S. forces and military vessels to the Philippines for training with local troops, The Associated Press reported.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin announced the country would suspend the abrogation of the VFA, citing “political and other developments in the region.”

“The abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement has been suspended upon the President’s instruction,” Mr. Locsin tweeted, including an attachment of a notice sent to the U.S. embassy in Manila.

It states that the suspension will last for six months and can be extended for another six.

Between 2016 to 2019, the U.S. provided over $550 million in security assistance to the country, Mr. Locsin said in an address earlier this year.

The U.S. has also provided intelligence, training and aid to Filipino forces, he said, adding that the American military presence has also helped as a deterrent to disputes with neighboring countries in the South China Sea.

According to U.S. officials, more than 300 military engagements, including joint trainings, would be put at risk if the agreement were to be terminated.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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