Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Tuesday that the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) termination would send a signal to China that it can build naval and air bases on the Scarborough Shoal.
Carpio said the VFA allowed the US to mark a red line on Scarborough as a warning that China could not build on the shoal. VFA gives a legal framework for the entry and stay of US military forces in the Philippines.
“When they hold exercises here in Luzon, they would fire their HIMARS missile to show to the Chinese that from Luzon, ‘We can destroy whatever you build on Scarborough shoal’ and… it was a strong message to China,” Carpio said.
Carpio warned that China might start building its military bases in the Scarborough, which is only 124 nautical miles away from Luzon.
VFA termination is China’s free pass to build in Scarborough Shoal- Carpio
“When we told the Americans that we don’t need the VFA, then how can we tell them help us in Scarborough shoal when precisely it was the VFA that allowed them to send that signal to China?” Carpio said.
Carpio said the Philippines’ Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the US did not cover Spratly’s Islands as a response to arguments that China still built military bases on the islands despite the VFA.
The MDT was signed in 1951 while the Spratlys Islands were not incorporated into Philippine territory until the 1970s.
The VFA was signed in 1999.
“As far as the Spratlys are concerned, that’s not covered by the MDT. That’s very clear. But the Scarborough is covered, that’s why the US has an obligation to help us in Scarborough shoal,” Carpio said.
On February 11, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin signed and delivered the notice of termination of the VFA.