Visiting Forces Agreement at Balikatan 2000: What You Need to Know
The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is an agreement between the Philippines and the United States that was signed in 1998. The agreement allows for the entry and temporary stay of U.S. military personnel in the Philippines for military exercises and humanitarian operations. One of the most significant events in recent history related to the VFA is the Balikatan 2000 exercise.
What was Balikatan 2000?
Balikatan 2000 was a joint military exercise between the Philippines and the United States that was held in April and May of 2000. The exercise involved approximately 4,000 U.S. military personnel and 3,000 Philippine military personnel. The primary objective of Balikatan 2000 was to enhance the capabilities of the Philippine military and improve interoperability between the two countries` armed forces.
How did the VFA come into play during Balikatan 2000?
The VFA played a crucial role in the planning and execution of Balikatan 2000. The agreement allowed for the temporary stay of U.S. military personnel in the Philippines and gave them the right to conduct military exercises on Philippine soil. It also provided a legal framework for the two countries` armed forces to work together seamlessly during the exercise.
The VFA also established the procedures for the legal jurisdiction of U.S. military personnel while they are in the Philippines. Under the agreement, the U.S. military is given primary jurisdiction over its personnel who commit crimes while in the Philippines, provided that the crime is not of a purely Philippine nature. However, the Philippine government still maintains the right to exercise jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel who commit crimes considered purely Philippine in nature.
What is the status of the VFA today?
The VFA has been a subject of controversy in recent years, with some lawmakers and politicians calling for its termination. In January 2020, the Philippine government announced that it would be terminating the agreement, citing the alleged involvement of U.S. military personnel in the wrongful killing of a Filipino transgender woman. However, in June 2020, the termination was suspended for six months to allow for further negotiations between the two countries.
As of January 2021, the VFA is still in effect, although its future remains uncertain. The agreement has been seen as a symbol of the strong military ties between the Philippines and the United States, but it has also been criticized for giving too much leeway to U.S. military personnel and infringing on Philippine sovereignty.
In conclusion, the Visiting Forces Agreement played a crucial role in the planning and execution of Balikatan 2000, allowing for the temporary stay of U.S. military personnel in the Philippines and establishing the legal framework for the joint military exercise. While the VFA is still in effect, its future remains uncertain, and it will continue to be a subject of debate and negotiation between the two countries.