On February 11, 2020, the Philippines announced its decision to terminate its Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States after 22 years of partnership. The decision marked a significant shift in the relationship between the two countries, as it altered the way they conduct their military exercises and training.
The VFA was signed in 1998 with the aim of providing legal guidelines for the presence and conduct of US military personnel in the Philippines. Under the agreement, the US military had access to designated Philippine military installations to conduct joint military exercises and training with Philippine troops.
However, President Rodrigo Duterte`s decision to end the VFA came as a response to the US`s cancellation of Senator Ronald Dela Rosa`s visa. Dela Rosa was the architect of Duterte`s brutal war on drugs, which has been criticized for human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings. The US cited the extrajudicial killings as the reason for the visa cancellation.
The termination of the VFA is a significant event, as it signifies the end of a longstanding partnership between the Philippines and the US. The two countries have had a long history of military cooperation, dating back to the early 1900s when the US colonized the Philippines. The VFA was seen as a concrete manifestation of this relationship, which many considered crucial for the country`s national security.
The end of the VFA has raised concerns about the country`s ability to defend itself against external threats. The US military was a significant source of training and support for the Philippine military in its fight against terrorism and insurgency. The VFA also provided the Philippines access to advanced military equipment, which it could not have otherwise afforded.
Furthermore, the decision to end the VFA could have significant geopolitical consequences. The Philippines is a strategic location in the Asia-Pacific region, and its alliance with the US was seen as a counterbalance to China`s growing military presence in the region. With the end of the VFA, the Philippines may become more vulnerable to Chinese expansionism and aggression.
In conclusion, the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the US marks a significant shift in the relationship between the two countries. The decision is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the Philippines` national security, its alliance with the US, and its position in the Asia-Pacific region. As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains to be seen how this decision will impact the region`s security and stability in the long term.