Election Frontrunners Support the Visiting Forces Agreement

Last January 22, 2022, veteran Philippine journalist Jessica Soho interviewed the leading presidential candidates as the May 2022 Philippine Presidential Elections drew nearer. One of the hotly contested topics asked was about the presidentiables’ stances on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). The military pact was threatened to be terminated by current President Rodrigo Duterte in 2020. This was after the US canceled the visa of Duterte’s right-hand former Chief of the Philippine National Police, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa. Dela Rosa was a central figure in the Philippines’ deadly drug war.

Philippine Presidential Candidates from left to right: Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno, Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, boxing icon Senator Manny Pacquiao. Image from GMA News/Youtube.

Four out of five of the leading Philippine presidentiables voted yes to the resumption of the VFA. Namely current Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, boxing icon Senator Manny Pacquiao, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno. Note that former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. declined to show up for the event.

But a lot of you might be wondering, what exactly is the Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines? What does it do for the United States Armed Forces? Why is it important for peace in the region? Read this first part of a multi-tiered series.

A Shared Military History

The United States and the Philippines have an extensive, shared military history that resonates even in the 21st century. From being enemies during the Philippine-American War in 1899 to being brothers-in-arms during World War I and World War II, Americans and Filipinos have shared defeats and victories across all fronts throughout history.