•   
  •   
  •   

World Philippines renews VFA, a key military agreement with the United States

08:35  21 november  2021
08:35  21 november  2021 Source:   msn.com

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.FIRST AFGHAN EVACUEES HEAD TO USDelfin Lorenzana, the national defense secretary of the Philippines, said that Duterte made the decision “to recall or retract” the termination letter.

The Philippines is restoring a military agreement with the United States that makes it easier for US forces to move in and out the country and signals to China a renewed commitment to the 70-year-old US-Philippine alliance.

a person standing in front of a flag: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana shake hands after a bilateral meeting at Camp Aguinaldo military base in Manila on July 30, 2021. © Rolex Dela Pena/Pool/AFP/Getty Images US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana shake hands after a bilateral meeting at Camp Aguinaldo military base in Manila on July 30, 2021.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the restoration of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in a joint news conference in Manila on Friday.

Manny Pacquiao says he'll jail former allies if he wins Philippine presidency

  Manny Pacquiao says he'll jail former allies if he wins Philippine presidency Former boxing champion turned senator, Manny Pacquiao says he will seek corruption charges against some of his former political allies within the Duterte government if he wins the Philippine presidential election next year. © Eloisa Lopez/Reuters Philippine senator and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao arrives at Sofitel Hotel to file his certificate of candidacy for President, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, on October 1, 2021. Speaking to CNN in an interview on November 11, the presidential candidate said he planned to investigate some members of President Rodrigo Duterte's outgoing administration.

The VFA, originally signed in 1988, gives US military aircraft and vessels free entry into the Philippines and relaxes visa restrictions for US military personnel. It is seen as important to Washington being able to act to protect the Philippines under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the two nations.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had previously vowed to terminate the agreement, but had repeatedly pushed back the expiration date, Reuters reported, maintaining it until the end of the year.

Austin welcomed Duterte's decision to reverse course, thanking the President for his decision to fully restore the agreement. "A strong, resilient US-Philippines alliance will remain vital to the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific," Austin said. "A fully restored VFA will help us achieve that goal together."

The Duterte Family's Plan for the Next Election Highlights the Problem of Political Dynasties in the Philippines

  The Duterte Family's Plan for the Next Election Highlights the Problem of Political Dynasties in the Philippines The president's family looks to bolster its position in a country already notorious for political dynastiesThe move is seen as an effort by the Dutertes to enhance their prominence in a country notorious for its dynastic politics—as well as an attempt by the the 76-year-old leader to evade accountability for his war on drugs. The brutal crackdown has left more than 20,000 dead, by some estimates, and seen Duterte become the focus of an International Criminal Court probe.

a group of people in a field: A US Navy landing craft brings US Marines ashore at the Naval Education Training Center, Philippines in a 2019 exercise. © Staff Sgt. Donald Holbert/US NAVY A US Navy landing craft brings US Marines ashore at the Naval Education Training Center, Philippines in a 2019 exercise.

Historic US-Philippine ties

The Philippines was once home to two of America's largest military bases outside of the US: Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Station.

Although those ceased to be US bases in the early 1990s, US forces still had access to them under the VFA and Manila maintained strong military ties with Washington.

But over the past few years, Duterte had tilted away from the US and toward China, which has offered a closer economic relationship with Manila.

"I need China. More than anybody else at this point, I need China," Duterte said before flying to Beijing in April 2018.

The Philippine President's overtures to Beijing came with the two countries locked in an ongoing dispute over their competing claims in the South China Sea. Since 2014, China has worked to turn numerous obscure reefs and sandbars in the waterway into man-made artificial islands heavily fortified with missiles, runways and weapons systems -- prompting outcry from other governments including Manila.

The Philippines announces it will reopen to tourists 'soon'

  The Philippines announces it will reopen to tourists 'soon' The Philippines is looking to open its borders to fully vaccinated tourists coming from "green list" countries "soon," the country's Department of Tourism announced on Friday, November 19. © Stringer/AFP/Getty Images TOPSHOT - In this photo taken on October 1, 2020, a resident wearing a face mask walk along a beach in Borocay, central Philippines. - Authorities eased restrictions in the world-famous Boracay on October 1, allowing local tourists to visit the island after more than six months of quarantine as coronavirus infections levelled off.

In 2016, a tribunal in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in a maritime dispute, concluding China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the South China Sea.

Chinese activity near Philippines

Duterte's pursuit of closer ties with Beijing has come under increasing pressure at home this year as an uptick in Chinese activity inside the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea has strained the Manila-Beijing relationship.

The Philippines took a tough tone earlier this year over the lingering presence of hundreds of Chinese boats in its EEZ, especially in April after China criticized Manila for staging naval and coast guard exercises in the South China Sea.

Duterte said at the time he would not compromise on his country's sovereignty in the waterway.

"So China, let it be known, is a good friend and we don't want trouble with them, especially a war," Duterte said in a late night address. "But there are things that are not really subject to a compromise ... I hope they will understand but I have the interest of my country also to protect," Duterte said.

Though the VFA disagreement had frayed US-Philippine military relations, US officials had been steadfast that there was no weakening of the mutual defense treaty due to it.

On the fifth anniversary of The Hague ruling earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the US' commitment to defend the Philippines' armed forces.

The US' top diplomat said the US could invoke the US-Philippine mutual defense pact in the event of any Chinese military action against Philippine assets in the region.

"We also reaffirm that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke US mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty," Blinken said.

The Philippines is a frontline of another cold war .
To counter China, the United States’ approach to its relationship with the Philippines invokes déjà vu. Despite the passing of decades, the players, strategy and results remain the same. © Getty Images The Philippines is a frontline of another cold war First, the players. Many who have studied U.S.-Philippines relations during the Cold War focus on the relationship between President Reagan and the infamous Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. This is because Ronald Reagan was the quintessential "cold warrior" whose administration attempted to counter communist influence by supporting U.S.

usr: 1
This is interesting!