President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday admitted that Washington’s Covid-19 vaccine donations to the Philippines pushed him to retain the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

In a televised address, Duterte thanked the US and President Joe Biden for the vaccine shots and said it was a fair “give and take” to keep the VFA.

“Give and take lang tayo. Pasalamat tayo sa kanila at may naibigay naman ako sa kanila na concession,” he said.

Duterte suspended the VFA’s abrogation multiple times: in February, June and November last year, and again in June this year.

“Nagpapasalamat tayo. I’d like to thank the president of the United States, si Biden, the government and the people of America for not forgetting us,” Duterte said,

Duterte’s decided on the VFA’s fate during a meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The VFA allows US troop presence in the country for exercises and training and provides the legal framework for such.

The Philippines received more than three million doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the US last month, and is expecting the arrival of three million doses of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday. John Ezekiel J. Hirro