Termination Of Visiting Forces Agreement In The Philippines

„Before the 180-day deadline for the final end of the VFA expires, the President unfortunately renounces his patriotic decision to end this unequal treaty and to continue to focus on a truly independent foreign policy. The end of the VFA could have had the same weight in history as the 1991 Senate vote that was to designate the American bases in the country,“ said Terry Ridon, convening Infrawatch PH. Military cooperation between the United States and the Philippines continued under Duterte, despite his skepticism of bilateral relations. Joint activities and U.S. assistance include external defence, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. U.S. and Philippine forces participated in some 281 joint activities in 2019. In May 2019, the Philippine Navy participated in the first joint navigation across the South China Sea with the United States, Japan and India. The two sides are continuing preparations for balikatan 2020, the largest regular joint exercise between the United States and the Philippines, scheduled for May, involving nearly 11,000 U.S., Filipino and Australian troops. But the VFA, the last iteration of which was originally ratified in 1999, plays a fundamental role in normal military activities within the Alliance`s boundaries. Without VFA, the temporary presence of U.S. forces in the Philippines and, importantly, the implementation of the Defence Cooperation Act 2014 (EDCA) would be impossible.

The United States has used the agreement at least twice to keep the accused military under U.S. jurisdiction. [5] On January 18, 2006, the U.S. Military retained custody of four soldiers accused of rape while they were visiting Subic Bay during their trial in a Philippine court. [6] They were detained by U.S. officials at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. This has led to protests from those who believe that the agreement is unilateral, harmful and contrary to the sovereignty of the Philippines. [Citation required] The agreement has been characterized as immunity from criminal prosecution for U.S. military personnel who commit crimes against Filipinos[7] and treatment of Filipinos as second-class citizens in their own country. [8] [9] As a result of these problems, some members of the Philippine Congress considered ending the VFA in 2006.

[10] [11] However, the agreement has not been amended. The note says: „Given the political and other developments in the region, the end of the agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the United States on the treatment of U.S. visiting troops visiting the Philippines… is suspended. Foreign Minister Teodoro „Teddy Boy“ Locsin Jr. announced Tuesday night on social media that President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the State Department to inform the U.S. Embassy in Manila of the government`s decision to suspend the suspension of the VFA. Ridon also called on the president not to be impressed by U.S. military equipment offerings and to lose them more at the end of the agreement. On February 11, 2020, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte officially announced at the U.S. Embassy in Manila that he was coming to an end to the pact, with the denunciation expected to come into force in 180 days, unless otherwise agreed during that period. In the past, Duterte has shown admiration for both Russian forces and the People`s Liberation Army of China, although the Philippines and China are involved in a dispute in the South China Sea over sovereignty over the Spratly Islands. [15] In June 2020, the Philippine government reversed this decision and announced that it was maintaining the agreement.

[16] The VFA is a 1998 agreement between Manila and Washington on the protocol for the U.S. military in the country. Controversial provisions include the lax visa and passport policy for U.S. troops and the power of the U.S. government to retain jurisdiction over the military if they ever commit crimes on the ground.