The U.S. has used the deal at least twice to keep accused military personnel under U.S. jurisdiction. [5] [6] On January 18, 2006, the U.S. military arrested four soldiers accused of rape while on their way to Subic Bay during their trial in a Philippine court. [6] They were detained by U.S. officials at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. This has sparked protests from those who believe the agreement is unilateral, damaging and contrary to the sovereignty of the Philippines. [Citation required] The agreement was characterized to grant immunity to U.S.

military personnel who commit crimes against Filipinos[7] and to treat Filipinos as second-class citizens in their own country. [8] [9] Because of these problems, some members of the Philippine Congress considered ending VFA in 2006. [10] [11] However, the agreement has not been amended. Although Duterte threatened to expel U.S. forces in 2016, he also benefits significantly from the United States. Military support including in these operations – and Manila may need more help, since 11 of its soldiers were killed in the fight against the Abu Sayyaf terror group in Sulu. The VFA was also essential to allow the U.S. military to enter the Philippines in 2013 to provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief after Typhoon Haiyan.

U.S. security assistance over the past two decades of the VFA`s existence has been considerable and amounted to about $1.3 billion, and annual exercises like Balikatan – although cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic – greatly improve the Philippine military`s willingness to conduct a series of missions. Indeed, decades of close interaction between the U.S. and Filipino militaries have led to very positive views of the U.S. under the Philippine defense establishment, while China is seen as the greatest threat. Paradoxically, the fatal blow to the VFA could come from Washington itself and not from Manila…