DND hopes 'VFA-like' pact with Japan to be signed this year

By Priam Nepomuceno

October 4, 2023, 3:00 pm

MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) expressed hope that an agreement with Japan similar to a visiting forces agreement (VFA) would be signed within this year.

"It's still in the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) but we want to fast-track it because the Senate is also waiting for it," Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. told reporters in a chance interview during the National Day and Armed Forces Day of the Republic of Korea held at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Taguig City Tuesday night.

Teodoro said this "reciprocal access agreement" (RAA) needs the approval of the Senate because this is a treaty with another country.

The DND chief said this agreement is needed so that Japan can join the planning of the exercises they are participating in.

The proposed RAA between Manila and Tokyo was on the agenda of the bilateral talks between then-Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Andres Centino and Japan Self-Defense Forces chief Gen. Koji Yamazaki held in Japan in March this year.

An RAA establishes procedures between two countries for the cooperative activities conducted by the defense force of one country while visiting the other country and defines the status of the visiting force.

Currently, Japan has an existing RAA with Australia and the United Kingdom. (PNA)