From Urdu Point (May 13, 2020): End Of US-Philippines Military Agreement To Complicate Counterterrorism Mission - Pentagon (Muhammad Irfan)
WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 13th May, 2020) The Philippine government's decision to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States will likely complicate US counterterrorism operations in the region, the Defense Department's Lead Inspector General said in a report.
"The full implications of VFA termination are not yet known, but it will likely present new challenges for US counterterrorism operations," the report said on Tuesday.
Moreover, the report said the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak had limited the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) counterterrorism operations towards the end of the previous quarter, which covers the period from January 1 to March 31.
The report added that, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the AFP had engaged in minor clashes with the Islamic Sate-East Asia terrorist group (banned in Russia) in which US special operations forces provided casualty evacuation assistance.
The termination of the bilateral military agreement, which was signed in 1999, will go into effect on August 9. The deal gave US forces access to Philippine territory for a range of activities but notably retained jurisdiction over soldiers that committed crimes in the country to be tried by US military tribunals.
The decision is part of a series of tit-for-tat measures that saw the US deny visas to Philippine politicians purportedly - although denied by Washington - over Manila's detention of human rights lawyer and politician Leila de Lima.
The Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country, has struggled for decades with Islamic Insurgency in the Mindanao region, located in the southwest region of the country. The armed conflict with the Muslim Moro rebel groups, which endures to this day, began in the 1970s as a result of the Moro's push for independence.