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Home Features What you need to know about the Visiting Forces Agreement

What you need to know about the Visiting Forces Agreement

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The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is an agreement between the United States of America and the Philippines, signed in 1998, simplifying access procedures of US service members in the Philippines, including bilateral training or military exercise.

It is in support of the Mutual Defense Treaty established in 1951, stating that both countries should provide mutual support to each other in case of foreign attacks.

The agreement also provides a series of procedures to resolve issues that may come up as a result of their presence in the country.

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In 12 February 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the cancellation of the agreement with the US.

It was reported that one of the reasons of the action is due to the revocation of the US visa of Senator Ronald dela Rosa, former Chief of the Philippine National Police who once led the anti-drug campaign of Duterte which was reported to have caused a ‘high level of extra-judicial killings’.

Visiting Forces Agreement."Philippine army Lt. Col. Henry Bellan, left, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Garrity, the deputy commanders of Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force, bury a time capsule containing the construction plans for a footbridge during a groundbreaking ceremony March 18, 2013, in San Narciso, Philippines. The job was one of eight engineering civic action projects conducted by U.S. and Philippine service members in support of exercise Balikatan 2013. Balikatan is an annual bilateral training exercise designed to increase interoperability between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military when responding to future natural disasters. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Fahey, U.S. Navy/Released)" by MC1 Chris Fahey is in the Public Domain
Visiting Forces Agreement.“Philippine army Lt. Col. Henry Bellan, left, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Garrity, the deputy commanders of Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force, bury a time capsule containing the construction plans for a footbridge during a groundbreaking ceremony March 18, 2013, in San Narciso, Philippines. The job was one of eight engineering civic action projects conducted by U.S. and Philippine service members in support of exercise Balikatan 2013. Balikatan is an annual bilateral training exercise designed to increase interoperability between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military when responding to future natural disasters. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Fahey, U.S. Navy/Released)” by MC1 Chris Fahey is in the Public Domain

The Center for Strategic and International Studies said Duterte’s action, in a broader context, is an action to create distance between the two countries which he called as an ‘independent foreign policy’.

The agreement between countries was said to be a ‘political signal’ of the ‘closeness’ of the countries’ alliances.

The cancellation of the agreement will be effective after a 180-day period.

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During the period, the US can seek a renegotiation, creating a possible new and better agreement with the Philippines.

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Jose Aaron C. Abinosa
Jose Aaron C. Abinosa
Jose Aaron Abinosa graduated with a degree in Communication at the University of St. La Salle, Bacolod. His love for food and the media led him to create an online food channel called “Espresso”. He is also a dancer, singer, graphic designer, and a former theatre play director.

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