Beng airs concerns on VFA Print
Tuesday, 20 August 2013 11:31

As the national government is in the process of revisiting policies related to the presence of American troops in the country, Mayor Beng Climaco has asked the Philippine Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (PCVFA) to address various issues and concerns in a bid to ensure a better and stronger RP-US partnership.

Mayor Climaco personally brought to the attention of Undersecretary Edilberto Adan, PCVFA Executive Director five issues which she believes should be properly reviewed and attended to.

These issues/concerns include the need for a briefing and coordination with the host Local government unit by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Joint special Operations Taskforce-Philippines (JSOTFP) on long term plans and engagements in Zamboanga City.

“What is the long term plan of the Philippine Government on US Military presence in Zamboanga City?,” the mayor asked, as she cited also the need to designate a liaison officer with the City Government who will be tasked to handle  local  issues and concerns with JSOTF-P.

The chief executive likewise reiterated her request for assistance on the rehabilitation /asphalting of the Airport runway which is also being utilized by American planes/jets as landing site. “These aircrafts fly and land in our airport and no fee is paid to CAAP due to the VFA. Our airport is built only for Commercial planes but not for heavy duty Cargo as what has been delivered thru the years. Damage to the airport has been caused”.

Assistance is also being sought in calibrating airport security and CCTV system which was initiated by the US Government in past years considering that American troops land in the airport and at times use commercial airplanes and are privileged in terms of security provisions.

The mayor is also asking that proper coordination be made with the LGU in the renewal of agreements between the U.S. and Philippine Government specifically on the use of facilities, plate numbers of vehicles, accident liability and landing fees.

Mayor Climaco thanked Adan for the efforts in overseeing the implementation of the VFA and in developing policies and legislative recommendations on the matter. These efforts, she stressed are essential toward the development of the citizens in building stronger ties between the Philippines and the US.

“With the change of command in the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines and in the light of government’s move to revisit the policies guiding the presence of American troops in the country, I hope that you can address these following concerns,” the mayor said in her letter.

Similar concerns were also raised by the mayor when she met with outgoing US Ambassador Harry Thomas, who paid her a courtesy visit in City Hall, Friday, August 16. The exit call came 6 weeks before the envoy will turn over the reign to a new ambassador.  — Sheila Covarrubias