Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to terminate a military bilateral pact, known as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), with the US Government.
The notice of VFA termination was sent by the Department of Foreign Affairs to the US Embassy in Manila.
Signed in February 1998, the VFA allows free entry of US Military aircraft and vessels inside the country.
Under the agreement, US personnel also enjoy relaxed passport and visa policies.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra was quoted by the Philippine News agency as saying: “Senators may bring up the issue of the VFA termination to the Supreme Court if they are minded to do so.
“Although a treaty is considered part of the law of the land, it does not belong to the class of ordinary statutes that pass through the entire legislative process; its abrogation is not similar to the repeal of an ordinary statute.”
“But again note this: we survived the historic termination of the (PH)-US military bases agreement; there’s no reason why we shall not survive the termination of a mere visiting forces agreement.”
In 1951, the Philippines and the US signed the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) to support each other if the nations are attacked.
Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said: “We just got the notification late last night. We have to digest it. We have to work through the policy angles, the military angles. I’m going to hear from my commanders. But you know, in my view, it’s unfortunate that they would make this move.”
“And as we try and, you know, bolster our presence and compete with them in this era of great power competition, I think it’s a move in the wrong direction for again, for the longstanding relationship we’ve had with the Philippines for their strategic location, the ties between our peoples, our countries.”
“I don’t think it’s necessarily tied to China. As you know, it’s tied to some other issues. So again, I’m going to take this one step at a time.”