Visiting Forces Agreement Between Us And Philippines
On February 11, 2020, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte officially announced at the U.S. Embassy in Manila that he was coming to an end to the pact, with the denunciation expected to come into force in 180 days, unless otherwise agreed during that period. In the past, Duterte has shown admiration for both Russian forces and the People`s Liberation Army of China, although the Philippines and China are involved in a dispute in the South China Sea over sovereignty over the Spratly Islands.  In June 2020, the Philippine government reversed this decision and announced that it was maintaining the agreement.  Some of the tensions between the United States and the Philippines, Schaus said, are caused by both sides who do not clearly state their priorities for the region. Philippine leaders are freezing their exit from the VFA to buy more time to negotiate an updated deal, Schaus said. According to the text of the diplomatic note, the six-month waiver “may be extended by the Philippines for a further six months.” At the end of this period, Manila, unless further action is taken, would return to its original plan to denounce the agreement, which was first announced on 11 February 2020. The United States could also take the opportunity to renegotiate a new, better-value agreement with the Philippines – one that meets President Duterte`s goal of being strong against the United States and the other that gives President Trump the opportunity to mark another important deal, this time a defense deal, with its unique footprint that could advance U.S. interests for years.
A5: The termination procedure within the VFA provides for a 180-day delay between the announcement of the intention to withdraw until the official date of the revocation. In the absence of a new agreement, U.S. forces currently operating in the Philippines must leave or find a new legal status. These include U.S. forces helping the AFP fight against Islamic State-linked insurgents on the southern islands. As the AFP and the Philippine government make progress against the insurgents, U.S. support is stepping up and accelerating progress for the Philippines, while slowing or even reversing the spread of Islamic State in Southeast Asia. The broader context is that President Duterte has tried to create a greater distance between the Philippines and the United States – what he calls an “independent foreign policy.” Among the various elements of this approach are contact with Russia for closer relations and potential arms sales, as well as efforts to strengthen economic and diplomatic relations with China, even as the Philippines continues to address (with diminishing force) China`s intrusion into its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.