According to U.S. News & World Report, the Philippine military on Wednesday stood by their mercurial president’s decision to scrap a security agreement with the United States, saying the country could now develop its own defense capabilities and alliances and would do fine without it.
The military chief backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s termination of the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that allowed U.S. troops to deploy to the country and said doing so would allow the Philippines to expand its modernization program and its engagement with Australia and Japan – both U.S. allies.
Armed forces commander, General Felimon Santos, said planes and ships were being procured from countries other than the United States, such as South Korea, while Filipinos were now “doing the leg work” on intelligence gathering on Islamist extremists.
Duterte’s opponents are dismayed and see the move as his personal favor to China, among them former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario, who called his decision “incomprehensible and harmful”.
Some lawmakers hope it can be saved in the 180 days before the termination takes effect, and worry that without it, two other U.S. military agreements will be irrelevant, making the Philippines vulnerable to Chinese influence and expansion.
Paul Crespo is a national security expert and communications consultant. As an officer in the US Marine Corps, he served as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at several US embassies worldwide. Paul was also an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami and a member of the Miami Herald Editorial Board. He holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. Paul is CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security consultancy, and a Contributor to American Defense News.