RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement


RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement

The RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement is a bilateral agreement between the Philippines and the United States, consists of two separate agreement documents. The first of these documents is commonly referred to as "the VFA" or "VFA-1"cite web
url=http://www.dfa.gov.ph/vfa/frame/frmvfa.htm
title=Agreement Regarding the Treatment of US Armed Forces Visiting the Philippines
accessdate = 2006-09-16
publisher = RP Department of Foreign Affairs
] ,and the second as "VFA-2" or "the Counterpart Agreement".cite web
url=http://www.dfa.gov.ph/vfa/frame/frmcag.htm
title=Agreement Regarding the Treatment of RP Personnel Visiting the USA
accessdate = 2006-09-16
publisher = RP Department of Foreign Affairs
] Both documents became effective on May 27, 1999, upon ratification by the Philippine Senate. cite web
url=http://www.supremecourt.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2000/oct2000/138570.htm
title=G.R. No. 138570. October 10, 2000
accessdate = 2006-12-04
] [8] , [10] The United States government regards these documents as Executive Agreements not requiring approval by the U.S. Senate. [42]

The term "VFA" is usually used in the Philippines to refer specifically to just the first of these two documents, which has been the subject of increasing controversy in the Philippines.

VFA-1

Effect

The primary effect of the Agreement is that it allows the U.S. government to retain jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel accused of committing crimes in the Philippines, unless the crimes are of "particular" importance to the Philippines. This means that for crimes without this significance, the U.S. can refuse to detain or arrest accused personnel, or may instead prosecute them under U.S. jurisdiction.The Agreement also exempts U.S. military personnel from visa and passport regulations in the Philippines.

The Agreement contains various procedural safeguards which amongst other things establish the right to due process and proscribe double jeopardy.The Agreement also prevents U.S. military personnel from being tried in Filipino religious or military courts [V 11] ;requires both governments to waive any claims concerning loss of materials (though it does require that the U.S. honor contractual arrangements and comply with U.S. law regarding payment of just and reasonable compensation in settlement of meritorious claims for damage, loss, personal injury or death, caused by acts or omissions of United States personnel) [VI] ;exempts material exported and imported by the military from duties or taxes [VII] ;and allows unrestricted movement of U.S. vessels and aircraft in the Philippines [VIII] .

Controversy

The U.S. has at least twice used the Agreement to keep accused military personnel under U.S. jurisdiction.cite news
title = Filipino taxi driver drops charges against U.S. servicemen
url = http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0WDP/is_2000_April_3/ai_61655198
publisher = Asian Economic News
accessdate = 2006-09-18
] cite news
title = Philippine prosecutors file rape charges against 4 U.S. Marines
url = http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0WDQ/is_2005_Dec_27/ai_n15971603
publisher = Asian Economic News
date = 2005-12-27
accessdate = 2006-09-17
] This most recently occurred on January 18, 2006, when the U.S. refused to hand over custody four soldiers accused of rape during the period of their trial in Filipino courts.This has led to unrest amongst many in the Philippines, who believe that the Agreement is one-sided, prejudicial to Filipinos, and a fetter on the sovereignty of the Philippines.The Agreement is seen by some Filipinos as granting immunity from prosecution to U.S. military personnel who commit crimes against Filipinos, and is seen by some as treating Filipinos as second class citizens in their own country.

As a result of these issues, the Philippine government has considered terminating the VFA.cite web
url = http://beta.inquirer.net/nation/index.php?index=1&story_id=63390
title = Angry lawmakers in Senate, House move to terminate VFA
accessdate = 2006-12-20
author = Philip C. Tubeza
coauthors = Michael Lim Ubac
date = 2006-01-19
publisher = Philippine Daily inquirer

VFA-2

Effect

The primary effect of the Agreement is to require the U.S. government (1) to notify RP authorities when it becomes aware of the apprehension, arrest or detention of any RP personnel visiting the U.S. and (2) when so requested by the RP government, to ask the appropriate authorities to waive jurisdiction in favor of RP, except cases of special interest to the U.S. departments of
State or Defense. [VIII 1] (Waiving of jurisdiction in the U.S. is complicated by United States being a Confederation of Statesin which each individual state has its own judicial system, and the U.S. Federal Governmentnot being in a position to simply order a
Stateto waive jurisdiction).

The Agreement contains various procedural safeguards which amongst other things establish the right to due process and proscribe double jeopardy [VIII 2-6] .The agreement also, among other provisions,exempts RP personnel from visa formalities and guarantees expedited entry and exit processing [IV] ;requires the U.S. to accept RP driving licenses [V] ;allows RP personnel to carry arms at U.S. military installations while on duty [VI] ;provides personal tax exemptions and import/export duty exclusions for RP personnel [X, XI] ;requires the U.S. to provide health care to RP personnel [XIV] ;and exempts RP vehicles, vessels, and aircraft from landing or ports fees, navigation or overflight charges, road tolls or any other charges for the use of U.S. military installations [XV] .

References

See also

*Visiting Forces Act
*Visiting Forces Agreement
*Status of Forces Agreement
*Mutual Defense Treaty (US-Philippines)
*Subic rape case

External links

*cite web
url = http://www.dfa.gov.ph/vfa/frame/frmfaq.htm
title = VFA FAQ
accessdate = 2006-12-25
publisher = RP Department of Foreign Affairs

*cite web
url = http://www.dfa.gov.ph/vfa/content/Primer.htm
title = VFA PRIMER
accessdate = 2006-09-16
publisher = RP Department of Foreign Affairs

*cite web
url = http://usembassy.state.gov/manila/wwwhr711.html
title = Facts about the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement
accessdate = 2006-12-20
Date = 2006-01-20
publisher = Embassy of the United States in Manila

*cite web
url = http://www.dfa.gov.ph/vfa/frame/frmmdt.htm
title = 1951 RP/US Mutual Defense Treaty
accessdate = 2006-09-16
publisher = RP Department of Foreign Affairs

*cite press release
title =U.S.-Philippine Joint Statement on Defense Alliance
publisher =The White House, Office of the Press Secretary
date =2001-11-20
url =http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/11/20011120-14.html
accessdate =2006-12-26

Further reading

* cite book
editor = Dieter Fleck
title = The Handbook of The Law of Visiting Forces
publisher = Oxford University Press
location = United Kingdom
date = 2003-09-18
isbn = 0198268947
id = ISBN 978-0198268949


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