Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr has said that the country extended the suspension of defence pact, Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), with the US.

The country has postponed the decision for the second time by another six months.

In a statement, Locsin said: “In appreciative recognition thereof, my President, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, has instructed me to convey with the appropriate formality his decision to extend the suspension of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement by yet another six months, to enable us to find a more enhanced, mutually beneficial, mutually agreeable, and more effective and lasting arrangement on how to move forward in our mutual defence.

“The past four years have changed the South China Sea from one of uncertainty about great powers’ intentions to one of predictability and resulting stability with regard to what can and cannot be done, what will and will not be acceptable with regard to the conduct of any protagonist in the South China Sea.

“Clarity and strength have never posed a risk. It is confusion and indecision that aggravate risk.”

Signed in February 1998, the VFA allows free entry of US military aircraft and vessels inside the country.

Under the agreement, US personnel also enjoy relaxed passport and visa policies.

In February, Duterte decided to terminate the VFA. The notice of VFA termination was sent by the Department of Foreign Affairs to the US Embassy in Manila.

In 2014, the US Government signed a ten-year defence cooperation agreement with the Philippines, in an effort to promote stability in the region.