The end of the VFA would leave the U.S. military in the Philippines, without any legal or operational reputation – and that`s a problem for the Alliance. Without a VFA, the U.S. military would not be able to support any of these defense agreements. The United States could also take the opportunity to renegotiate a new, better-value agreement with the Philippines – one that meets President Duterte`s goal of being strong against the United States and the other that gives President Trump the opportunity to mark another important deal, this time a defense deal, with its unique footprint that could advance U.S. interests for years. At a time when this access is questionable, it is worth checking the effects of its loss. If, hypothetically, the loss of the VFA initiates a chain reaction that, encouraged by Chinese pressure, ends with the dissolution of the MDT, the expulsion of American forces and the denial of future access, what would this mean for American operations? For the most part, the loss of Philippine bases places operational and logistical burdens on four other main sites: South Korea, Japan (continent and Okinawa), Australia and Guam. As a result, the size, speed and nature of the forces assigned to the South China Sea and Taiwan conflicts would change for two main reasons: one policy and the other logistics. Uncertainty about the future of military cooperation between the Philippines and the United States poses challenges to the Trump administration`s free and open Indo-Pacific strategy. Adm Philip S.
Davidson, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said, „But our ability to assist the Philippines and their violent fight against this, our ability to train and operate within the Philippines and with the Philippine armed forces, would be called into question without this agreement from the Visiting Forces.“ The Philippines-U.S. Visiting Agreement, sometimes the PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement, is a bilateral agreement between the Philippines and the United States, which consists of two separate documents. The first of these documents is commonly referred to as „VFA“ or „VFA-1″ and the second is referred to as „VFA-2“ or „counterparty agreement.“  A Visiting Forces Agreement is a version of an agreement on the status of the armed forces that applies only to troops temporarily stationed in a country. The agreements entered into force on 27 May 1999, after ratification by the Philippine Senate.    The U.S. government considers these documents to be executive agreements that do not require the approval of the U.S. Senate.   Manila and Washington now have 180 days to renegotiate the VFA before it expires.
Repeated criticism of the VFA by civil society groups could provide Duterte and its allies with some political cover to adapt the terms of the agreement. However, the Philippine president will find it difficult to eliminate the VFA for the long term due to domestic opposition and broader strategic concerns. On June 1, the Philippine government informed the U.S. Embassy in Manila that it had frozen a February decision to withdraw the Philippine and U.S. Visiting Forces (VFA) agreement. The agreement between the two countries facilitates the ability of the United States to send military forces to the Philippines and supports the U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty.