The Status of Visiting Forces Agreement: What You Need to Know
The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is an agreement between the Philippines and the United States that governs the conduct of U.S. military personnel while they are in the Philippines. The agreement has been in effect since 1999 and has been a subject of controversy and debate.
Recently, there have been calls to review or even abrogate the VFA. This is due to various reasons, including the alleged abuses committed by U.S. troops, the unequal treatment of the Philippines and the U.S. in the agreement, and the changing geopolitical landscape in the region.
So, what is the status of the VFA? Here’s what you need to know:
1. The VFA is still in effect.
As of this writing, the VFA is still in effect. The agreement has a provision that allows either the Philippines or the U.S. to terminate it with a notice of 180 days. However, no official notice of termination has been made by either party.
2. The Philippine president has the power to terminate the VFA.
Under the Philippine Constitution, the power to enter into treaties and international agreements, including the VFA, is vested in the president. The president also has the power to terminate such agreements.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been vocal about his desire to end the VFA. In February 2020, he ordered the termination of the agreement, but this was later suspended by the Philippine government in June. The suspension was extended until December 2021 to allow for further discussions.
3. The VFA has both benefits and drawbacks.
The VFA provides several benefits to both the Philippines and the U.S. These include enhanced military cooperation, joint military exercises and training, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
However, the agreement also has several drawbacks. One issue is the lack of jurisdiction of the Philippine government over U.S. troops who commit crimes while in the country. Another issue is the unequal treatment of the Philippines and the U.S. in the agreement, such as the lack of equal access to military facilities and the exemption of U.S. personnel from paying taxes.
4. The status of the VFA is intertwined with the Philippines’ relations with the U.S.
The status of the VFA affects the overall relationship between the Philippines and the U.S. The U.S. is a key ally of the Philippines, and the VFA is an important aspect of their bilateral relationship. If the VFA is terminated, it could have implications not just on military cooperation but also on economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries.
In conclusion, the status of the VFA remains uncertain. Despite calls for termination, the agreement is still in effect, and discussions between the Philippines and the U.S. are ongoing. The VFA has both benefits and drawbacks, and the decision on its status will have significant implications on the Philippines’ relations with the U.S. and on regional stability.