Visiting Forces Agreement Means

As I said in these pages, the alliance between the United States and the Philippines, born in 1951 from the Mutual Defense Treaty, is based on a deep and extensive partnership between the two countries, and was no stranger to a cycle of stress tests, including in the field of defense – be it the renegotiation of basic agreements in the 1970s or the closure of U.S. military installations in the early 1990s. It is even worth recalling that the VFA itself is the result of a period of uncertainty for the Alliance in the 1990s: the agreement, ratified in May 1999 and which regulates the conditions under which US military personnel may temporarily be present in the Philippines, was reached after the Philippines perceived an increased threat from China in the early 1990s. , after the closure of the American bases. “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. The political issue of the VFA is complicated by the fact that many host countries have mixed feelings about foreign troops on their soil and that the VFA`s renegotiation requests are often linked to requests for the total withdrawal of foreign troops. Questions of different national practices may arise. Many American observers believe, for example, that the host country`s judicial systems provide much lower protection for defendants than the host country`s courts may be under pressure from the public to commit guilt; In addition, U.S. service members who are invited to send shipments abroad should not be forced to waive their rights under the U.S. Bulletin of Rights.

On the other hand, observers of the host country who do not have a local equivalent of the law of rights often feel that these are irrelevant excuses for seeking special treatment and resemble the extraterritorial agreements demanded by Western countries during the colonial period. A host country, where this sentiment is widespread, South Korea itself has forces in Kyrgyzstan and has negotiated a SOFA that grants its service members total immunity from prosecution by the Kyrgyz authorities for any crime[1] something that goes far beyond the privileges that many South Koreans in their nation`s sofa have contradicted with the United States , but the VFA – whose iteration was originally ratified in 1999 – plays a fundamental role in normal military activities. within the borders of the alliance. Without VFA, the temporary presence of U.S. forces in the Philippines and, importantly, the implementation of the Defence Cooperation Act 2014 (EDCA) would be impossible. Under Article V of the agreement, the custody of U.S. personnel whose case falls under Philippine jurisdiction must “immediately reside with the U.S. military authorities if they wish” from the time the crime was committed, until all legal proceedings are completed.