VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte falsely claims there are still U.S. military bases in PH

Read this fact check in Filipino

President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to “terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)” with the United States after his former police and corrections chief Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa confirmed that his U.S. visa had been cancelled.

Giving the American government a month to fix Dela Rosa's visa cancellation, Duterte said:

“I’m warning you, this is the first time: ‘pag hindi ninyo ginawa ang correction diyan (if you don’t correct that) one, I will terminate the bases -- Visiting Forces Agreement...They are the ones who really want the military bases, the Visiting Forces Agreement. Because of what they did to Dela Rosa, that is what we will give them in return.”

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the distribution of benefits to former rebels in Leyte, Jan. 23, 2020, watch from 22:17 to 22:44, 25:20 to 25:48

Palace Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a Jan. 27 press conference said Sen. Dela Rosa’s visa cancellation was “the last straw that broke the camel’s back,” which urged Duterte to end the VFA.

But contrary to the president’s claim, there are no more U.S. military bases in the country.

Watch this video.

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte falsely claims there are still U.S. military bases in PH from VERA Files on Vimeo.

The Military Bases Agreement, signed in 1947, had originally allowed the US to occupy, maintain and control air and naval bases for 99 years. In an exchange of notes between the two countries in 1966, the validity of the treaty was reduced to 25 years, setting the new expiration date to Sept. 16, 1991.

According to the 1987 Constitution, the U.S. military bases, troops, or facilities shall be allowed only under a treaty approved by the Philippines and the other state:

“After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning Military Bases, 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.”

Source: Official Gazette, The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: Article VIII, Sec. 25

In 1992, the U.S. formally turned over the military bases to the Philippines under former President Fidel V. Ramos at Subic Bay.

The VFA, which was ratified by the Senate in 1999, outlines the terms and conditions for the entry and visit of U.S. personnel in the country for military exercises, according to an FAQ article by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Enhancement Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), signed under former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III furthering the VFA and 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, has an initial 10-year term allowing rotational U.S. military presence at five Philippine military bases. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Cayetano wrong to claim U.S. has military bases in PHL, Taiwan)

A portion of EDCA specifically points out that the Philippines and the US have an understanding not to “establish permanent military presence or base in the territory of the Philippines.”


Sources

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the distribution of benefits to former rebels in Leyte, Jan. 24, 2020

CNN Philippines, Dela Rosa confirms his US visa has been canceled, Jan. 22, 2020

New York Times, Philippines Orders U.S. to Leave Strategic Navy Base at Subic Bay, Dec. 28, 1991

The Washington Post, U.S. BASE REJECTED IN PHILIPPINES, Sept. 10, 1991

Chicago Tribune, AQUINO VOWS FIGHT AS PHILIPPINE PANEL REJECTS U.S. BASES, Sept. 10, 1991

Rappler.com, LOOK BACK: When the Senate said 'no' to US bases renewal, Sept. 16, 2016

Bulatlat.com, Volume 2, Number 32: The Day the Impossible Happened, September 15 - 21, 2002

GMA News Online, 20 years later, senators who rejected US bases hailed anew, Sept. 16, 2011

The Baltimore Sun, U.S. preparing to abandon Clark Air Base, July 16, 1991

Los Angeles Times, U.S. Reaches Accord With Manila, Will Leave Clark Air Base: Philippines: Volcano causes abandonment of field. But Americans will keep Subic Naval Base for 10 years, July 18, 1991

New York Times, U.S. Will Abandon Volcano-Ravaged Air Base, Manila Is Told, July 16, 1991

Library of Congress, Agreement between the United States of America and the Republic of the Philippines concerning Military Bases, Retrieved on Jan. 25, 2020

Supreme Court E-library, Agreement amending the Military Bases Agreement of 14 March 1947, Sept. 16, 1966

Official Gazette, The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: Article VIII, Sec. 25

Official Gazette, Speech of President Ramos at the Subic Turnover Ceremony, Nov. 24, 1992

Gov.ph, Agreement between the Philippines and the United States on Enhanced Defense Cooperation, Retrieved on Jan. 25, 2020


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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