Under Article V of the agreement, the custody of U.S. personnel whose case falls under Philippine jurisdiction must “immediately reside with the U.S. military authorities if they wish” from the time the crime was committed, until all legal proceedings are completed. However, U.S. military authorities make the accused available to the Philippine authorities “in a timely manner for investigations or judicial proceedings related to the offence.” One possible way to understand the VFA is to compare it to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO members exercise the right to seek protection from other members during international conflicts. The protection and defence we expect from the U.S. government and belligerents in international disputes is more in line with NATO`s objectives. We are waiting for that protection from the United States, but they cannot guarantee it.
The VFA provides security to the Filipino people, although it is defective. “While the Philippines has the prerogative to denounce the VFA at any time, the continuation of the agreement is seen as more beneficial to the Philippines than any benefits if denounced,” Locsin said at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. The murder of Jennifer Laude not only provoked negative reactions from Filipinos and foreigners, but also sparked the resumption of the VFA debate. Many Filipinos, including prominent lawmakers and social media activists, have called for ratification and even the abolition of the agreement, citing issues of sovereignty and criminal justice. But many may wonder why there are American soldiers on Philippine soil. And more importantly, are their fears of remaining beneficial to the Philippines? As I said in these pages, the alliance between the United States and the Philippines, born in 1951 from the Mutual Defense Treaty, is based on a deep and extensive partnership between the two countries, and was no stranger to a cycle of stress tests, including in the field of defense – be it the renegotiation of basic agreements in the 1970s or the closure of U.S. military installations in the early 1990s. It is even worth recalling that the VFA itself is the result of a period of uncertainty for the Alliance in the 1990s: the agreement, ratified in May 1999 and which regulates the conditions under which US military personnel may temporarily be present in the Philippines, was reached after the Philippines perceived an increased threat from China in the early 1990s.
, after the closure of the American bases. Manila and Washington 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. The agreement contains various procedural safeguards to protect due process rights and prohibit dual threats.  [VIII 2-6] The agreement also exempts Filipino personnel from visa formalities and ensures expedited entry and exit;  [IV] requires the United States.