Philippine VFA Agreement Explained as Duterte Moves to Terminate Military Pact With the US

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier vowed to end the existing agreement between his country and the United States. The pact outlined the rules of the American military presence in the nation. His pledge came true on 11 February.

On Tuesday, Rodrigo Duterte ordered the government to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, instructing Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to issue the subsequent notification to Washington.

According to presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, the notice of termination has now been signed by the Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin and sent to Washington, thus scrapping the formal permission for the American military presence and joint exercises in the country. But what did the deal stipulate and what could this development mean for the future of US-Philippine military cooperation?

What Was the VFA?

The VFA was a pact between the Philippines and the United States signed in 1998 following the Philippine Senate’s rejection of the renewal of the Military Bases Agreement in 1991. The VFA came into force in 1999, affirming the two countries’ obligation under a Mutual Defence Treaty, which still remains intact, to defend each other in case of an armed attack by a third party.

The agreement permitted the training of US military personnel in the country, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, while specifying the rules and guidelines surrounding their temporary…

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