At least three senators, including detained Senator Jinggoy Estrada, are calling to revisit Visiting Forces Agreement provisions especially on criminal jurisdictions.
”While I still believe that the VFA remains beneficial for the Philippines in terms of capacity building of our armed troops and in keeping regional security, recent events have shown how some provisions of the said agreement can be disadvantageous to the Filipinos,” the detained senator said.
Next week, October 22, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago will conduct an inquiry regarding the case of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, a Filipino transgender allegedly killed by US Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton.
Senator Francis Escudero said Legislative Oversight Committee on the Visiting Forces Agreement should convene to review VFA. The committee is chaired by Senator Santiago, assisted by Senator Trillanes with seven members from House of Representatives.
“Our problem actually is this: The Philippines is one of the weakest militaries in Southeast Asia, and China is making growling noises. That is the real core of this problem,” Senator Santiago told reporters.
“What if China attacks us or it makes an overt move, instead of just landing on certain rocks there or constructing something that they claim to be temporary. Supposed they go beyond that? What are we going to do if they make an enemy of the US at this time? That’s why I’m bewailing that this is the wrong time for this accident to happen,” Santiago explained.
“You know this is a very, very bad time. This is the worst of times for this incident to happen. They just finished their joint exercises, and the mutual defense board are about to sit down together, one from the Philippines and one from United States,” Santiago added.