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