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.  In June 2020, the Philippine government reversed this decision and announced that it was maintaining the agreement.  The Philippines-U.S. Visit 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.   Second, it is not certain that the President has the constitutional authority to repeal an international agreement ratified by the Philippine Senate. Senators still disagree on whether Duterte can unilaterally terminate the VFA and have even proposed that the Supreme Court weigh in on the legality of Duterte`s decision.
The Agreement on Enhanced Defence Cooperation (EDCA), signed in April 2014 under then-President Benigno Aquino III, aims to operationalize the VFA. Military activities authorized by the Philippines are also insinuated in the context of the VFA. The executive agreement provides for an increased military turnover of U.S. troops, aircraft and ships in the Philippines and allows them greater access to military bases in the country. According to the text of the diplomatic note, the six-month waiver “may be extended by the Philippines for a further six months.” At the end of this period, Manila, unless further action is taken, would return to its original plan to denounce the agreement, which was first announced on 11 February 2020. 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. Apart from this reading of the tea leaves, Duterte cannot in principle have a single discretion to decide the fate of the VFA.