Meanwhile, a public policy thinker called Manila`s decision to suspend the suspension of the VFA a “flip-flop.” Many in the Philippines, particularly in defence and foreign policy institutions, want the VFA to be prosecuted. On February 6, 2020, Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin Jr. reportedly said at a Philippine Senate hearing that the continuation of the agreement was “more beneficial” to the Philippines than to end it. Some supporters are trying to avoid President Duterte`s actions. On February 10, the Philippine Senate passed a resolution asking the president to reconsider his intention to repeal the agreement, and on March 2, he passed a resolution asking the Supreme Court to rule on whether the Senate should approve the dissolution of the treaty, which the political statement said is unclear. The presidential palace has announced that it will consider a Supreme Court decision on the matter. However, it should also be kept in mind that the suspension leaves open broader issues that already existed before the first termination of the VFA. While the conclusion of this concrete episode may be postponed, the underlying tension between the Alliance`s continued strategic importance, long recognized by bureaucracies and public opinion on both sides, and Duterte`s entrenched personal problems with it will remain until the end of its one-time six-year term in June 2022. And while this tension unfolds, their leadership, whether directly through individual exercises or indirectly with Duterte`s China accolade – will continue to occupy officials from both countries and regularly distract them not only from maintaining, but also from strengthening the alliance in a changing regional environment.
Foreign Minister Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin Jr. announced Tuesday night on social media that President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the State Department to inform the U.S. Embassy in Manila of the government`s decision to suspend the suspension of the VFA. This raises uncertainty about the future of military cooperation between the Philippines and the United States, an important part of the U.S. security situation in Asia. The Philippines is an ally of the American treaty and the end of the VFA would not change that status. However, many aspects of U.S.-Philippine cooperation, including military exercises and U.S. access to Philippine military facilities, could be made more difficult or impossible without the legal protection of the VFA.
This lack of cooperation could hamper U.S. efforts to use the network of U.S. alliances in the region, address tensions in the South China Sea, where the Philippines has long been in conflict with China, and implement counterterrorism measures in the southern Philippines. It could also have implications for humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions throughout the region. The VFA is a 1998 agreement between Manila and Washington on the protocol for the U.S. military in the country.