17 0 0 1 month ago 4 min to read

Zubiri urges PH-Japan VFA negotiations

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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is currently in Japan for a five-day official working visit, and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday urged the Philippine and Japanese governments to start preliminary discussions on a potential Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Zubiri, a member of the Philippine delegation for the President’s state visit, recalled in a media interview at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo that he had already discussed VFA with the Japanese ambassador to the Philippines, Koshika Kazuhiko, last year.

Although formal discussions about the VFA have not yet reached Marcos, the Senate President stated that this is a good opportunity for him to bring up the subject with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

“Strategically, it makes sense. With ongoing territorial disputes over our waters and Japan as an ally, we stand to gain from closer security coordination with our allies “said Zubiri.

He pointed out that Japan is already providing crucial support to the Philippine Coast Guard, not only through equipment and vessels but also through other opportunities to build capacity, like training, and that a VFA will strengthen their bilateral relationship even more.

Zubiri clarified, however, that “peaceful diplomacy” continues to be our top strategy for resolving disputes, “but we also have to be ready for any eventuality.”

In times of conflict, he said, “with Japan on our side, we will be able to strengthen our Coast Guard and Armed Forces.”

A VFA with Japan, according to Zubiri, will be essential to bolstering our security and defense as well as greatly assisting the Philippines in becoming a more resilient nation during natural disasters by utilizing their expertise in disaster management.

Given everything we stand to gain from the VFA, Zubiri remarked, “I am optimistic that we will be able to start formal negotiations about it soon, and I am quite convinced that we will be able to collect enough support in the Senate for it.”

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