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Defence Notes

Duterte leaves Philippine-US VFA in state of suspense

18th June 2021 - 20:23 GMT | by Gordon Arthur in Christchurch

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The Visiting Forces Agreement provides the legal basis for US military exercises in the Philippines. (Gordon Arthur)

Duterte remains true to character by leaving in limbo, but not severing, a legal agreement that allows US troops to train in the Philippines.

The controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is due to step down in May 2022 when his term in office expires, but he continues to hold the US at arm’s length by postponing the suspension of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) by another six months.

The VFA, coming into force in 1999, is vital since it provides the legal basis for US troops to train and exercise in the Philippines. Critically, it gives the US government jurisdiction over US troops if they commit crimes.

If the agreement is eventually suspended, it will bring to a grinding halt joint exercises such ...

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