President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States would not have an adverse impact on other existing agreements aimed at boosting military alliance between Manila and Washington, Malacañang clarified on Sunday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said terminating the VFA is not tantamount to abandoning the Philippines’ defense and security cooperation with the US.
“‘Yung VFA lang naman ang mate-terminate (It’s just the VFA that will be terminated). So there is nothing to speculate about alliance natin with the (United) States. Ganoon pa rin. Wala namang mababago (It stays the same. Nothing will change),” Panelo said in an interview with dzIQ.
“Nandoon pa rin. Hindi naman mababago yun. ‘Yung VFA lang naman ang pinag-uusapan (The other agreements still exist. Nothing will change. We’re just talking about the VFA),” he added.
Apart from VFA, the Philippines has other existing pacts with the US, which include the 1947 Military Assistance Agreement, the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), and the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
The Military Assistance Agreement created the joint US Military Assistance Group to advise and train the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Meantime, the 1951 MDT seeks to boost the defense and security cooperation between Manila and Washington, while the 2014 EDCA aims to boost military ties in maritime security and domain.
On Thursday, Duterte threatened to terminate the VFA between the Philippines and the US within one month, in case Washington fails to “correct” the cancellation of Senator Ronal dela Rosa’s US visa.
The VFA, signed by Manila and Washington on Feb. 10, 1998, gives US forces the privilege to enter the Philippines sans passport and visa restrictions, as well as to use their permits and licenses in the host country.
Under the VFA, the US also keeps jurisdiction over its military when they commit crimes in the Philippines, unless these are punishable in Manila.
The Philippines can revoke the VFA by notifying the US of its intent to terminate the agreement. PNA.GOV.PH