Andrew Yeo is an associate professor of politics at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and is currently a fulbright Visiting Research Fellow at the University of the Philippines Diliman. His most recent book is "Asia`s Regional Architecture: Alliances and Institutions in the Pacific Century" (Stanford University Press, 2019). Yesterday, the Philippines announced to the United States that it intends to withdraw from the Philippine-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the two countries. Below is a brief summary of what VFA is and why it is important. "It is indeed the right of the Philippine government to do so if it finds that the agreement is no longer in our national interest," Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana said on 24 January. Of course, in the midst of the hype, it is interesting to note that many things are still uncertain as to how the VFA`s closing process will actually unfold. The six-month period could see a series of developments that could change the nature of the Philippine decision, whether it is the engagement between the two sides or the evolution of Manila`s threat environment, as we have already seen with the Marawi crisis in 2017, which had mitigated some of Duterte`s anti-U.S. Instinct is temporary. And even if the VFA is terminated, it is interesting to note that the broader U.S.-Philippine alliance would be intact and that there is potential for negotiation for a similar agreement under the Duterte administration or a subsequent agreement (although the previous VFA was a challenge to go through the Philippine legislature).
Nevertheless, given the headlines that continue to make headlines about the end of the VFA, it will be important to keep in mind the contours of its importance. On February 11, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Manila would denounce the U.S. and Philippine Visit mission agreement (VFA), an agreement that allows the U.S. military to move to the Philippines. Duterte`s decision was taken in Washington with deep concern about the possible consequences of the Indopapacific Strategy (PDF), which was primarily aimed at countering China`s growing strength. In many host countries, the VFA can become an important political issue as a result of crimes allegedly committed by members of the visitation service. This is especially true when it comes to serious crimes such as theft, murder, manslaughter or sexual crime, especially when the charge is defined differently between the two nations.