The US Losing Philippines Its Only Ally in South China SeaPosted: February 12, 2020
CNN says in its report “Philippines formally ends Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with US” yesterday, “The Philippines has finally sent the United States a notice to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement, marking the start of the 180-day period from when the two-decade military pact will be effectively scrapped. Malacañang on Tuesday confirmed that the document has been signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Tedoro ‘Teddy Boy’ Locsin, Jr. and sent to the US government.”
That worries Philippine Senate Minority leader Franklin Drilon as according to him, scrapping VFA will make ineffective the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the two countries (EDCA), which allows the US military to use and control five bases in the Philippines. He says, “If the VFA and EDCA are no longer effective, then the MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries), as mentioned by Sec. Locsin, would be inutile and would serve no purpose,”
However, the MDT has already proved by facts as serving no purpose as proved by US inaction during the Scarborough standoff between the Philippines and China. The US did not defend Philippines’ claimed rights to Scarborough Shoal. As a result, the shoal has entirely been taken over by China and Philippine fishermen who fished on the shoal and in the area around the shoal, were forbidden to fish there.
The US told the Philippines to file an arbitration at The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague and helped it to get a favorable ruling. The US sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to force China to accept the ruling but China challenged it with war. The US failed to fight a war to defend the rights the Philippines claims. Since the US has failed to defend the Philippines, the MDT has already been inutile and been proved serving no purpose.
Media are used to blame China’s influence for the Philippines distancing from its long-term ally the US. The truth is facts have made the Philippines see that its alliance with the US serves no purpose.
It is only possible for the US to defend the Philippines when China attack the Philippines but China simply will not do so. It has no intention to take back the islands and reefs it claims but are occupied by the Philippines. On the contrary, it wants win-win cooperation to exploit the natural resources in disputed areas.
Before Scarborough standoff, China and the Philippines both fished there but the Philippines tried to forbade Chinese fishing but had its own fishing banned by China there. The US did nothing to help the Philippines.
When he Philippines accepted China’s win-win suggestion, China allowed the Philippines to fish there.
The same with the exploitation of energy resources in disputed areas. China does not allow the Philippines to exploit the resources alone but is willing to conduct win-win cooperation with the Philippines in exploiting the resources.
If the Philippines is not willing, China can wait as it is rich and has no urgent need to exploit the resources. The Philippines, however, is poor and wants urgently to exploit the resources. As a result, it is trying hard now to find an acceptable way to cooperate with China to exploit the resources there.
The above proves that the US has in effect lost its only ally the Philippines in the South China Sea.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on CNN’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://cnnphilippines.com/news/2020/2/11/Philippines-ends-VFA-United-States.html.