What Is The Philippines-United States Visiting Forces Agreement And Why Does It Matter

Paradoxically, the death knell for the VFA could come from Washington itself, not from Manila. Asked about his thoughts on Duterte`s termination of the deal, Trump replied, «I don`t mind if they want to do that. This will save a lot of money. . My views are different from others. Trump`s statement underscores his general lack of appreciation for international agreements and alliances in favor of his «America First» policy. However, the two leaders held talks on April 19, and it was unclear whether the VFA had come forward. Whatever happens, the fate of the VFA will set the tone for the alliance, at least for the rest of Duterte`s term until 2022, if not beyond. Many in the Philippines, especially in the defense and foreign policy establishment, want the VFA to continue. On February 6, 2020, Secretary of State Teodoro Locsin, Jr. A Philippine Senate hearing reportedly said that pursuing the agreement for the Philippines «is considered more beneficial» than its termination. Some supporters are trying to avoid President Duterte`s action.

On February 10, the Philippine Senate passed a resolution calling on the president to reconsider his intention to cancel the deal, and on March 2, it passed a resolution calling on the Supreme Court to rule on whether the Senate should approve the termination of the treaty, which policymakers say is unclear. The presidential palace said it would settle a Supreme Court ruling on the matter. Uncertainty about the future of U.S.-Philippine military cooperation poses challenges to the Trump administration`s free and open Indo-Pacific strategy. Adm. Philip S. Davidson, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said, «But our ability to assist the Philippines and its extremist struggle representing combat in the South, our ability to train and operate in the Philippines and with Philippine forces, would be called into question without this agreement on visiting forces.» It establishes rules for travel privileges granted to U.S. personnel; the import and export of U.S.

equipment, materials and supplies, as well as the movement of U.S. aircraft, ships and vehicles within the country. The agreement also sets out the rights of both governments to jurisdiction over U.S. forces committing criminal acts in the Philippines. Bilaterally, the end of the VFA would effectively take the PHILIPPINE-U.S. alliance back to the early 1990s, when the alliance itself still existed, but was neutralized by a lack of a U.S. military presence to facilitate the kind of cooperation, interoperability, and capacity building that is an essential part of the alliance`s cooperation. Without agreement on a number of conditions under which U.S.

troops may be present on Philippine soil, there is a risk that we will see discussions and a possible examination of the level and nature of the presence that have helped support U.S.-Philippine defense cooperation, which has actually improved despite Duterte`s threats thanks to certain measures. .