PH-US Military Agreement Terminated

Through Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., the Philippines has sent a notice to the United States informing its withdrawal and the official termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

In a press briefing held by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on February 11, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea under the instruction of President Duterte that the letter of termination must be sent as soon as possible. In a separate press briefing, Panelo said that there is no need for deliberation among cabinet on the decision of the President to go through with the withdrawal from the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

The move of Malacanang commences despite calls from the Philippine Senate to pursue revisions of the VFA rather than its total revocation.

In 1998, the VFA was signed that made it legal for U.S. military forces to conduct military exercises and relief efforts in the Philippines on a regular basis. Most recently, U.S. Congress approved the revocation of visas of several Philippine legislators including Senator Ronald Dela Rosa on the violation of human rights through the Global Magnitsky Act. In retaliation, President Duterte mentioned that the VFA would be scrapped should the U.S. insists to revoke Sen. Dela Rosa’s visa.

Furthermore, without the VFA, other agreements such as the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement would meet complications in meeting commitments made by both countries to respond to attacks on each of their territories.

The termination of the VFA will take effect 180 days from today. The US has yet to issue a formal response to the termination. In a conference held in Belgium, US defense secretary Mark Esper said, “I think it's a move in the wrong direction, again for the long-standing relationship we've had with the Philippines, for their strategic location, for the ties between our peoples and our countries".

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