Nov. 11 (UPI) — The Philippines has determined to postpone the termination of a bilateral protection settlement with the US, as tensions with Beijing stay unresolved within the South China Sea.

Philippine Overseas Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. stated Wednesday Manila has been in communication with the Trump administration about extending the settlement to droop the Philippines’ withdrawal from the bilateral Visiting Forces Settlement, the Philippine Star and ABS-CBN Information reported.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has determined the 2 international locations ought to “discover a extra enhanced, mutually useful, mutually agreeable, and simpler and lasting association on how one can transfer ahead in our mutual protection,” Locsin stated.

In February, the Philippines initiated the termination of the VFA. The discover of termination would have ended the pact, which permits for joint coaching, in August, however the Philippines suspended the termination in June “in mild of political and different developments.” The most recent postponement means the VFA stays in impact till 69 days after June 1, 2021.

The Philippine resolution to finish the settlement got here after the US canceled Philippine Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa’s U.S. visa. The visa cancellation is believed to be linked to the politician’s function in Manila’s “battle on medicine” whereas he was Philippine Nationwide Police chief, in line with the Star.

The Philippines’ resolution to not transfer ahead with VFA termination got here after China’s Coast Guard stepped up its patrol of Scarborough Shoal in Could. Scarborough Shoal is claimed by Manila and Beijing. China has claimed nearly all waters within the South China Sea beneath its “nine-dash line” coverage.

In June, Philippine Protection Secretary Delfin Lorenzana stated the COVID-19 pandemic requires working along with different international locations.

“We have to cooperate with different international locations to combat the pandemic and I believe the president thought that it is premature to finish the VFA at this second,” Lorenzana informed CNN Philippines on the time.

The USA has been offering the Philippines gear for quarantine amenities, in line with experiences.