"Countries entering into international agreements have their respective interests and we must be circumspect in both recognizing these mutual interests, while maintaining our independence."
World peace cannot be achieved by the efforts of one country alone. This is why traditional foreign policies are instituted to promote and preserve peace and cooperation among participant countries. Treaties and international agreements are entered into by nations for various purposes but often with a common goal—that is, to strengthen and help each other.
The Visiting Forces Agreement has been in force since 1998. More than two decades after, we have seen inevitable blunders in its implementation, but we cannot deny that the country has benefited from the United States. To be specific, in the past five years, we have reportedly received roughly $500 million worth of military support from the US that were in the form of aircraft, training, equipment, and military financing. Apart from that, the economic investments brought into the country due to the increased confidence of foreign traders from the VFA helped boost national growth and development. These investments yielded a domino effect of providing employment and livelihood to many Filipinos all over the country.
But without going too far, any other country who enters into an international agreement would definitely look into these perks. Nonetheless, what’s important right now to the Philippines, given the scenario across our waters, is that we obtain a semblance of comfort and security that we will not be abused by other countries. In other words, if a foreign nation is sincere and genuine in offering its help, we must be given the capability to defend ourselves in case of necessity, and effectively assert our independence in case of intrusion.
It goes without saying that countries entering into international agreements have their respective interests and we must be circumspect in both recognizing these mutual interests, while maintaining our independence.
We are facing many battles, the pandemic and its consequences across the board, the challenges of acquiring vaccines, internal conflict, and continuing aggression in our waters—the latter, despite the present pandemic that we are trying to contain, and minimize. I hope that we determine the commitments of our treaty partners, with a careful eye on their demonstrated sincerity in fulfilling our agreements, at this time when countries should be helping each other.