Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has expressed his opinion that a security accord between the Philippines and the United States called the Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA should not be scrapped by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Locsin’s comments were made during a televised Senate hearing where he sought to counter Duterte’s late January comments to local media where he said, "I'm warning you ... if you won't do the correction on this, I will terminate the ... Visiting Forces Agreement. I'll end that son of a b---h.”

Duterte was responding to the revocation of Senator Bato Dela Rosa’s U.S. diplomatic visa over his association with Duterte’s war on drugs. Dela Rosa is a former Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief who oversaw the most brutal phase of the drug war that has raised alarms with international human rights watchdogs.

During the hearing, Locsin said, "While the Philippines has the prerogative to terminate the VFA anytime, the continuance of the agreement is deemed to be more beneficial to the Philippines compared to any predicates [conditions] were it to be terminated.”

The “benefits” of the VFA run deep. The U.S. is a longtime ally, a major trading partner and the largest development aid provider in the Philippines. From 2016 to 2019, the U.S. provided more than $550 million in security assistance to the Philippines.

American forces have provided intelligence, training, and aid that allowed the Philippines to deal with a variety of issues including human trafficking, cyberattacks, illegal narcotics, and terrorism.

Locsin pointed out how U.S. military assistance helped Filipino forces stop a siege by Islamic State group-aligned militants in 2017 and how the very presence of the U.S. military serves as a deterrent to China’s aggressive actions in the disputed South China Sea. He added that there may be a "chilling effect on our economic relations" if the Philippines draws down its security alliance with Washington.

The secretary also said terminating the VFA would affect more than 300 joint trainings and other activities this year with U.S. forces "which the Philippine military and law enforcement agencies need to enhance their capabilities in countering threats to national security.”

Duterte always seems a bit oversensitive when it comes to allegations of human rights abuses over his drug war and the continued detention of opposition Sen. Leila de Lima, a vocal critic of Duterte's deadly campaign against illegal drugs.

When two U.S senators campaigned to stop Philippine officials connected with the detention of de Lima from entering the U.S., he said he would do the same to the senators entering his country.

According to presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, Duterte turned down an invitation from U.S. President Donald Trump to attend a special meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in March in Las Vegas. All the while, he has been full of praise to Russia and China who have a less than stellar reputation on human rights issues.