This latest election will be crucial as it marks the end of Duterte`s reign, with Philippine presidents limited to a single six-year term. In February, Duterte ordered the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, jeopardizing security coverage for the Philippines, which is increasingly hostile to Chinese actions in the South China Sea. Under the agreement, Washington and Manila had 180 days after giving notice – in this case until August – to try to salvage the deal. In 2014, U.S. forces were allowed to return and operate on Philippine bases under an agreement known as the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), but the agreement has stalled since the election of Duterte in 2016, who has always expressed anti-American sentiment throughout his presidency. On that day, the Philippine government, led by President Rodrigo Duterte, made an official communication to the United States cancelling the agreement that governs the status of U.S. forces in the Philippines. Second, it is not clear whether the president has the constitutional authority to repeal an international agreement ratified by the Philippine Senate. Senators still disagree on whether Duterte can unilaterally terminate the VFA and have even proposed that the Supreme Court weigh in on the legality of Duterte`s decision. In response to the Philippines` actions, the U.S. government says the absence A of the agreement will have a “significant impact” on relations between the two countries. A security analyst, who spoke to the CBA on condition of anonymity, said Malacaang`s VFA U-turn was designed as a mass of negotiation if U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden came to power and demanded the Philippines for human rights violations.
My research explains how the VFA itself is the product of past alliance conflicts. In 1991, a more nationalist Philippine Senate voted not to renew a reciprocal basing agreement. Their decision led to the closure of the Subic naval base and effectively forced the withdrawal of all American troops from the Philippines. However, in the mid-1990s, increased security problems in the South China Sea and the slow pace of modernization of Philippine forces led Manila to revive defence relations with Washington with the signing of the VFA in 1998. Paradoxically, the fatal blow to the VFA could come from Washington itself rather than from Manila. Asked about Duterte`s denunciation of the agreement, Trump said, “I don`t mind them wanting to do it. It will save a lot of money. … My opinions are different from the others. Trump`s statement underscores his general lack of esteem for international agreements and alliances in favor of his “America First” policy. However, the two leaders spoke on 19 April and it was not known whether the VFA was running. Whatever happens, the fate of the VFA will determine the tone of the Alliance at least for the remainder of Duterte`s mandate until 2022, if not beyond. Custodio said Manila needed the Alliance more than the United States, adding that the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic would “strengthen” the Philippines` ability to maintain and modernize its armed forces.
Kim merely emphasizes the benefits of the presence and cooperation of U.S. troops in the Philippines, which are sanctioned by the agreement. The Philippine president`s order to kill the wounded in quarantine amid the chaos of the coronavirus is once again testing democracy in his country.