President Donald Trump seemed unconcerned with news about the Philippine government’s decision to revoke the Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA, even expressing his thanks because the US will be able to “save monies.”
“If they would like to do that (referring to the Philippine government), that’s fine, we’ll save a lot of money,” Trump told Washington reporters and even remarked how strong his relationship with Duterte is.
Duterte decided to order his foreign affairs secretary Raul Locsin to inform the US government via the US embassy stationed in Manila, of the Philippines’ intention to sack the nearly twenty year old defense pact. Manila sent word to the US that it is no longer interested on engaging US troops to joint military exercises, after the US Congress directed the Trump administration to revoke all US visas of Filipinos involved in Duterte’s brutal drug war and the illegal incarceration of Filipino senator Leila de Lima.
The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is just one of about four strategic military cooperation agreements entered into by the United States and the Philippines. Signed in 1998, the VFA lays down guidelines on the conduct of US troops in the Philippines during joint military exercises. The goal of the VFA is to encourage technology swaps between the two countries, which are traditional war allies since World War Two.
Since the 19th century, the Philippines had relied on the US in external defense. Both countries signed a Mutual Defense Treaty that seeks to foster defense cooperation between the two nations. With the Philippine pivot to China, several experts expect Duterte move in with other military arrangements with other countries, one of them Great Britain which expressed interests. Palace spokesperson Salvador Panelo however, say the Philippines is not thinking of entering into another VFA with another country.