Moscow – The Philippines has notified the U.S. about scrapping a bilateral military agreement that allowed U.S. troops to stay on Philippine territory.
The island nation’s foreign secretary, Teodoro Locsin Jr., announced this on Tuesday amid a row between the two countries.
“The Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the U.S. has received the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement.
“As a diplomatic courtesy there will be no further factual announcements following this self-explanatory development,” Locsin tweeted.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a media briefing that the U.S. forces would be given a 6-month window to curb their activities under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“The notice of the termination has been sent and the effectivity of that would be 180 days from the receipt of the U.S. government of such notice,” Panelo said as quoted by CNN Philippines.
The notice was sent to the US embassy following reports on Friday that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the termination of the VFA.
U.S. diplomats confirmed in a statement that they had received notice of Manila’s desire to scrap the VFA, signed in 1999.
“This is a serious step with significant implications for the U.S.-Philippines alliance.
“We will carefully consider how best to move forward to advance our shared interests,” the U.S. embassy’s statement, as seen by the CNN Philippines, read.
The deal gave U.S. forces access to Philippine territory for a range of activities but notably retained jurisdiction over soldiers that committed crimes in the country to be tried by U.S. military tribunals.
The move is the latest in a series of tit-for-tat measures that saw the U.S. deny visas to Philippine politicians purportedly — although denied by Washington — over Manila’s detention of human rights lawyer and politician Leila de Lima.
Late last year, Panelo said that Manila was ready to impose strict visa regulations on U.S. politicians in response to similar moves from Washington.
Duterte in late December banned two U.S. senators supportive of de Lima, Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy, from entering the Philippines.