Duterte has criticized the U.S.-Philippines in the past. On Thursday, his spokesman said that Duterte`s “body language” read, it is clear that the president wants to end the remaining defense agreement with the United States, including the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and subsequent pacts, including the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. But the VFA, the last iteration of which was originally ratified in 1999, plays a fundamental role in normal military activities within the Alliance`s boundaries. Without VFA, the temporary presence of U.S. forces in the Philippines and, importantly, the implementation of the Defence Cooperation Act 2014 (EDCA) would be impossible. 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 end of the VFA was interpreted as a step toward other powers such as China and Russia, a diplomat said on Wednesday that he had discussed a joint agreement on military technical cooperation with the Philippines. On February 11, 2020, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte officially announced at the U.S. Embassy in Manila that he was coming to an end to the pact, with the denunciation expected to come into force in 180 days, unless otherwise agreed during that period. In the past, Duterte has shown admiration for both Russian forces and the People`s Liberation Army of China, although the Philippines and China are involved in a dispute in the South China Sea over sovereignty over the Spratly Islands.

[15] In June 2020, the Philippine government reversed this decision and announced that it was maintaining the agreement. [16] The main effect of the agreement is to compel the United States.