The Visiting Forces AgreementJanuary 31, 2010
by Dyan Garcia, with Ven Dionisio
The American occupation has, in itself, contributed much to the betterment of the Philippines. The Americans have given us the gift of our own democracy, our generally higher proficiency in the English language in comparison to other Asian countries, and a more eventful Philippine history. Recent years of support has shown that the American government has not stopped its support for our country in times of calamity and need.
The implementation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is another testament on the concern of the United States of America (USA) for the welfare of our very own Armed Forces here in the Philippines. Both agreements (VFA I and II) were fully recognized and made effective under the presidency of Joseph Estrada, with the Senate approval on May 27, 1999. The agreement has allowed us to acquire much-needed help from superior American tactics and technology during times of conflict with neighboring countries like China especially in the dispute over the Spratly Islands. The strong relationship that exists between the US and our own country may often be criticized by most extreme nationalists on the grounds of loss of identity and because of their belief that the foreign superpower may hold too much influence when it comes to making our own decisions. But really, this relationship is not such a bad thing. One could actually say that the US has done a pretty good job of watching over us, given that half of the time a developing country like the Philippines may lack both strategy-knowledge and equipment. The Americans showcase this support by giving us secondhand military materials and even aircraft, much of which are currently being used today by our very own military men. The American soldiers also provide the Philippine army with training camps that help enrich the awareness of the latter on prevailing trends and new findings in military strategy and combat. Such type of information has also helped the national army when it comes to dealing with local hostilities that involve militant and terrorist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf.
All of these, of course, are made possible by the Philippine government. Despite our initial apprehensions about them, we believe that at this point it becomes clear that the decision of the national government to seek help from the US has allowed the Philippines to evolve into something of importance in the Asian battleground. Good job, government!