In the Know: PH Constitution on foreign military bases

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The 1987 Constitution explicitly prohibits foreign military bases in the Philippines.

Article XVIII, Section 25, of the Constitution states that “foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

In 1991, the Senate voted 12-11 to reject the extension of the US-Philippines Military Bases Agreement, saying the treaty was “one-sided.” The last US ship and helicopter carrier, the USS Bealleau Wood, sailed away from Subic Bay in November 1992.

The US military, however, continues to be a perennial visitor to the country, its visits authorized under a 62-year-old Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines.

Under the treaty signed in 1951, the Philippines and the United States agree to come to each other’s defense against an armed attack.

In 1999, the Senate ratified the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), clearing the way for the resumption of joint military exercises between the Philippines and the United States and increased defense cooperation.

According to the website of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, the VFA covers activities approved by the Philippine and the US governments such as joint military exercises, training and planning activities; subject matter experts exchange (formal or informal classroom-type exchanges); civil military operations conducted with units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; humanitarian missions such as relief efforts in times of natural disasters and US ship visits to the Philippines for repairs, refueling and replenishment of supplies as well as rest and recreation of the crew.—Ana Roa, Inquirer Research

Sources: Inquirer Archives, gov.ph, vfacom.ph

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