Philippine president restarts Visiting Forces Agreement with US

Philippine president restarts Visiting Forces Agreement with US

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte restored the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States following a meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III.

The policy reversal came about 18 months after Duterte first announced that he would end the agreement, which underpins U.S. military training exercises with the country's troops, the Department of Defense announced on Friday morning.


Delfin Lorenzana, the national defense secretary of the Philippines, said that Duterte made the decision “to recall or retract” the termination letter. “So, the VFA is in full force again; there is no termination letter pending, and we are back on track with your secretary to plan for future exercises under the VFA," he said.

The U.S. and the Philippines have had a rocky relationship, which has suffered for years from disputes over Duterte’s human rights record.

United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin views the military honor guard at Camp Aguinaldo military camp in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines Friday, July 30, 2021. Austin is visiting Manila to hold talks with Philippine officials to boost defense ties and possibly discuss the The Visiting Forces Agreement between the US and Philippines. (Rolex dela Pena/Pool Photo via AP) Rolex dela Pena/AP

He pulled out of the agreement that provides legal protection for U.S. troops who visit the country for military drills after the State Department canceled the visa of a political ally and former police chief who is suspected of involvement in extrajudicial killings.

"I'm glad to have the opportunity in person to reaffirm our shared commitment to the U.S.-Philippine alliance," Austin, who is in the middle of a trip to Southeast Asia, said.

"Let me thank President Duterte for his decision to fully restore the Visiting Forces Agreement," he added. "Our countries face a range of challenges from the climate crisis to the pandemic. And as we do, a strong, resilient U.S.-Philippines alliance will remain vital to the security, stability, and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific. A fully restored VFA will help us achieve that goal."


The VFA allows for the Defense Department to conduct more than 300 bilateral engagements annually with the Philippine military.

The agreement figures prominently in the Pentagon's plans to counter China's growing military power in the region.

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Tags: News, Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines, Foreign Policy, Lloyd Austin, National Security

Original Author: Mike Brest

Original Location: Philippine president restarts Visiting Forces Agreement with US