US support to AFP modernization continuous: PH envoy

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

March 5, 2021, 6:20 pm

<p>Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez. <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez. (File photo)

MANILA – While the future of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is still uncertain, the United States will continue to support the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine Ambassador to Washington DC Jose Manuel Romualdez said Friday.

Within the year, Romualdez said the US is set to deliver about 10 Black Hawk helicopters to the Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier demanded payment from Washington DC for the continuation of the VFA. The chief executive last week, however, said he has yet to decide as he wanted the public's opinion and the view of the military.

Romualdez said the Pentagon provided a "long list" of its aid to the Philippines in the past five years since 2016, which indicates the US was able to provide most of what Manila asked.

"So, mayroon kaming nakuhang lista na ibinigay sa amin, na ibinigay sa amin ng Pentagon. Ikinompare namin doon sa list na ipinadala nila kay (Defense) Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana at mukhang sapat naman sa lahat ng mga hinihingi natin (We got a list from the Pentagon. We compared this from the list sent to Secretary Lorenzana and we think it's enough based on the things we've asked)," he said.

"Mukhang kumpleto naman at marami pang dadating na mga kailangan natin na mga armas (I think it's complete and more arms are expected to come) or whatever hardware that we need from the United States," he added.

Romualdez hopes the list would "satisfy" the President, but noted the latter still has the "sole prerogative" to either review or extend the VFA. (PNA)