Makati Business Club: 'Strong' U.S. ties important for PH economy, security

MANILA, Philippines – The Makati Business Club (MBC), which counts the country's largest conglomerates as its members, expressed concern over the Philippines' termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.

In a statement on Friday, February 21, the MBC reiterated its support for maintaining a strong alliance with the US, the Philippines oldest and most powerful ally. (READ: Makati Business Club: Yes to strong China ties, but maintain US alliance)

"The Makati Business Club expresses its belief that strong ties with the US are important for both economic and security reasons," MBC said.

"Strong ties among democratic states are critical in preserving peace and the rule of law in the region," it added.

With the VFA set to expire in 6 months, the business group said it is "concerned" about the notice of cancellation of the military pact sent by the Philippine government to the US, as it may "affect other security agreements."

"[We] hope that this paves the way for discussion between the Philippines and the US on ways to eliminate its negative factors but preserve its positive benefits," MBC said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr had earlier said that economic relations of the Philippines and US may be affected with the cancelation of the VFA. (READ: Locsin on impact assessment of VFA termination)

In 2018, the US was the country's 3rd largest trading partner and the Philippines' biggest export market. It is also the 4th largest import source.

US investments in the Philippines reached P12.9 billion in 2018.

The VFA took effect in 1999, outlining the guidelines for the conduct of American military troops in the Philippines. This is the foundation of military exercises between the two countries.

The agreement was an affirmation of the two countries' obligations under the 69-year-old Mutual Defense Treaty. The MDT is a commitment to defend each other – in accordance with constitutional processes – in the event of an armed attack by a hostile party.

Some senators have expressed concern over the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to unilaterally terminate the VFA, without Senate concurrence, as he had done with the country's withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.

Senators from both sides of the political fence would file a petition before the Supreme Court (SC), raising the question of whether Senate concurrence of the is needed in ending treaties and international agreements.

While Section 21, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution requires Senate approval when signing a treaty, the Constitution is silent on the same requirement when it comes to ending treaties. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.