The VFA could have been abrogated last month if Duterte had not delayed an earlier decision to terminate the pact after President Donald Trump expressed readiness to help the Philippines deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Philippine leader has said his country can survive without America.
Like Asian neighbors such as Indonesia and Vietnam, the strategically located Philippines intends eventually to keep equal relations with both world powers, analysts believe. Asian countries with a neutral stance often get development aid and investment from China along with military support – to resist China — from the United States.
The Regional Trial Court in Olongapo city, which handled Pemberton’s case, ruled that the law covers Pemberton and ordered authorities on Sept. 1 to release him early for good conduct. But Laude’s family and the Department of Justice separately appealed, blocking his early release from a maximum prison term of up to 10 years.