First, the Philippine security establishment still appreciates the alliance. Philippine forces continue to benefit from the VFA and receive military assistance, training, training and weapons. And although the Philippine Foreign Minister and Defence Minister mentioned the need to review the agreement and develop an autonomous national defence, the two did not openly ask for an end to the VFA. Major Philippine lawmakers also called on Duterte to reconsider his decision on the VFA. Paradoxically, the fatal blow to the VFA could come from Washington itself rather than from Manila. Asked about Duterte`s denunciation of the agreement, Trump said, “I don`t mind them wanting to do it. It will save a lot of money. … My opinions are different from the others. Trump`s statement underscores his general lack of esteem for international agreements and alliances in favor of his “America First” policy.
However, the two leaders spoke on 19 April and it was not known whether the VFA was running. Whatever happens, the fate of the VFA will determine the tone of the Alliance at least for the remainder of Duterte`s mandate until 2022, if not beyond. On February 11, 2020, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte officially announced at the U.S. Embassy in Manila that he was coming to an end to the pact, with the denunciation expected to come into force in 180 days, unless otherwise agreed during that period. In the past, Duterte has shown admiration for both Russian forces and the People`s Liberation Army of China, although the Philippines and China are involved in a dispute in the South China Sea over sovereignty over the Spratly Islands.  In June 2020, the Philippine government reversed this decision and announced that it was maintaining the agreement.  Uncertainty about the future of military cooperation between the Philippines and the United States poses challenges to the Trump administration`s free and open strategy. Adm Philip S. Davidson, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said, “But our ability to assist the Philippines and their violent fight against this, our ability to train and operate within the Philippines and with the Philippine armed forces, would be called into question without this agreement from the Visiting Forces.” The VFA must clarify the conditions under which foreign military personnel can operate.