Defense pacts with US ‘practically useless’ without VFA, Guevarra says

13-Feb-2020 Intellasia | PhilStar | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement would render other military agreements with the US practically useless, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Wednesday.

Guevarra, a member of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, was tasked by the Palace with reviewing the potential impact of scrapping the agreement, which sets guidelines on the jurisdiction of American troops in Philippine territory and vice versa.

“The termination of the VFA will make the [Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement] practically useless and the [Mutual Defense Treaty] a hollow agreement,” Guevarra said.

Guevarra was optimistic, however, that the Philippines can weather the effects of the scrapped VFA.

“We survived the historic termination of the RP-US military bases agreement; there’s no reason why we shall not survive the termination of a mere visiting forces agreement.”

The Philippines sent the notice of termination of the agreement to the US on Tuesday.

‘A deflated balloon’

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. told senators at a hearing last week that without the VFA and the EDCA, the Mutual Defense Treaty “may be compared to a deflated balloon.”

“For all practical purposes, it becomes an extra large rubber for our nationfar more elastic than it can ever need for its purpose and more suitable as a shower cap than a prophylactic against foreign aggression,” Locsin said then.

Analysts had earlier warned of this possibility, with military historian and defense analyst Jose Antonio Custodio saying in late January that ending the VFA would “undo” EDCA.

“Because VFA is a [Status of Forces Agreement]. It governs the legality of US military presence in [the Philippines],” Custodio said then.

Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, meanwhile said that scrapping the VFA could effectively “suspend” the MDT.

“In other words, the Philippines won’t allow the US the access it needs to help defend the Philippines or help with AFP modernisation, then the United States cannot possibly fulfill its mutual defense obligations if Philippine forces come under attack,” Poling told Philstar.com.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Tuesday said that the Philippines may enter military agreements with other nations but also said that that is just a possibility.

“But the presidentagain, I will repeat, he said it’s about time we rely on ourselves. We will strengthen our own defenses and not rely on any other country.”

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/02/12/1992513/defense-pacts-us-practically-useless-without-vfa-guevarra-says

 


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