The Visiting Forces Agreement between the U.S. and Philippines
Philippine Foreign Policy and Relations
Torrecampo, Rejane Cortez
Outline of the Paper
I. US-Philippines Bilateral Relations
II. The Visiting Forces Agreement through the years
III. The Renegotiation or Termination of the VFA
U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Relations
"The Philippines and the United States are longstanding allies."
-U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton said after her recent meeting with Philippines Foreign Sec. Albert Del Rosario,2011
The assessment of the relationship of the Republic of the Philippines and the United States can be traced from the long history of colonization of the latter to the former state. Since both countries struggled to defeat the Japanese during the Second World War, it made the transition of independence easier and was even satisfying to both nations (Stephens, 1981, p.30). This strategic decision paved the way to create a "special" relationship between the US and the Philippines, a relationship that was beneficial to both countries. It was useful for the Philippines, since it continued to face internal turmoil after WW II. On the other hand, the special relations of US with the Philippines was useful for its battle against global communism.
When the Philippines finally gained its independence from the United States on July 4 , 1946, it also officially established a diplomatic relation with their formal colonial master. However, economic, political and military ties with the United States was not immediately cut, making the Philippines still dependent on Uncle Sam even when its sovereignty was duly acknowledged. One proof would be the continuous ties with the US in terms of military and security agreements which gives them the privilege "to exercise command, control and influence over the strategic plans, training, orientation and tactics of the Armed Forces of the Philippines." (Simbulan, 2009, p. 109).
The relationship of these two countries are strengthened by their commitment to democracy and freedom, and their practice of a market economy. As Washington describes this relation, this partnership covers a wide range of issues they both battle together from the war against terrorism to war against poverty.
Security and Military Alliance
After the Second World War, bilateral relations with US greatly influenced Philippine foreign relations. It was even intensified by their signing of different agreements, guiding their economic, trade, and security relations. Like any other issue, critics claim that these agreements are one-sided, serving mostly American interests both in the aspect of the economy and security.
US-RP Military Bases Agreement of 1947
Months after the declaration of independence, the two states signed what Col. Victor Felix (2005) considers as one of the most significant treaties between US and RP(p.4). This was the Philippine-American Military Bases Agreement (MBA) that was signed on March 1947 and was agreed to be binding for a period of ninety-nine (99) years. The military agreement can be summed up into two highlights. First, the MBA allows the US to retain its use of bases in the Philippines. Second, the Philippines may determine the use of the bases according to its military necessity. But in 1966, the treaty was amended which shortened the ninety-nine (99) year period to twenty-five years.
Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951
To further strengthen the MBA of 1947, both entered a military alliance through the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) on August 1951 in Washington, DC. The main purpose of the treaty was the reported "defense of the Philippines in the event of aggression" (Simbulan, 2009, p113). As Prof. Roland Simbulan (2009) described it in his book "Forging A Nationalist Foreign Policy", the mutual defense treaty is an agreement wherein “both countries agreed...
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