Status Of Forces Agreement Philippines
Military cooperation between the United States and the Philippines continued under Duterte, despite his skepticism about bilateral relations. Joint activities and U.S. assistance include foreign defense, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief. U.S. and Philippine forces participated in 281 joint activities in 2019. In May 2019, the Philippine Navy participated in the first joint voyage across the South China Sea with the United States, Japan and India. The two sides are continuing preparations for Balikatan 2020, the largest regular joint exercise between the United States and the Philippines, scheduled for May and involving nearly 11,000 U.S., Filipino and Australian troops. Many people in the Philippines, especially in the defense and foreign policy establishment, want the VFA to continue. On February 2, 2020, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said at a Philippine Senate hearing that the continuation of the agreement was “considered more beneficial” for the Philippines than its end. Some supporters are trying to avoid President Duterte`s action.
On February 10, the Philippine Senate passed a resolution asking the president to reconsider his intention to repeal the agreement, and on March 2, it passed a resolution asking the Supreme Court to decide whether the Senate should approve the termination of the treaty, which policymakers said is unclear. The presidential palace has hinted that it will settle a Supreme Court decision in this matter. Such distances are the source of a heavier logistical burden, especially for the air force. Fighter jets should be refueled more often along the way, giving enemy forces two main objectives instead of one. The Philippines and Indonesia could also deny U.S. forces access to their airspace, making the route even more complicated. Beyond the use of Philippine bases as a place of preventive intervention, these bases allow US forces to position supply equipment near combat. Okinawa is home to important refueling materials like fuel and ammunition for the Army and Air Force, but 1,000 miles is a long way if you`re in need. Second, it is unclear whether the president has the constitutional power to repeal an international agreement ratified by the Philippine Senate. Senators still disagree on whether Duterte can unilaterally denounce the VFA and have even proposed that the Supreme Court weigh in on the legality of Duterte`s decision. For Japan, the reasons for the conflict – and how the US plans to use its basic access – would be driving factors.
Japan attaches great importance to the language of the “previous consultation”, which is part of the “exchange of notes” between then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi and Christian Herter, then Foreign Minister, who negotiated the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1960. .