Continuing US intervention


Rodrigo Duterte formally reneged on his threat to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) after personally meeting US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on July 29. Thus, the unimpeded entry and exit of huge number of US troops, materiél and military equipment to and from Philippine sovereign territories was officially restored.

The push for the VFA and other military agreements with the US is in accordance to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the two countries. In the past seven decades, the US was able to maintain its military power in the country through this unequal military treaty, as well as the VFA, Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines (OPE-P). Through these, the US was able to further tighten its operational control over the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Even when Duterte play-acted to abrogate the VFA, US military presence and activies continued unabated in the country. In April, it continued to launch the Balikatan exercises despite rising cases of Covid-19 infections in the country. It also held the three-week Salaknib exercises of the 1st Brigade Combat Team this July. Prior to this, the US delivered ₱48.5-million worth of firearms to the AFP.

The unimpeded occupation of military facilities in at least five AFP camps by American soldiers is also maintained through the EDCA. Ame­rican soldiers operating under the OPE-P were among those who transpoted the bodies of the casualties after the crash of an AFP C-130 plane in Sulu. Meanwhile, the US mounted at least three freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea during the first half of 2021.

The US has long been using the MDT to use the Philippines as a base in its saberrattling campaign in the Asia-Pacific region. Under this agreement, the Philippines deployed its own troops during the wars in Korea and Vietnam, as well as the US wars of aggression against people who are struggling for democracy and national liberation. Former US military bases in the Philippines were also used as bases in the US war of aggression in Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and Afghanistan.

Continuing US intervention