Philippines Enhances Ties with AUKUS

On September 15, 2021, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States announced the formation of a technology-sharing accord called AUKUS. The accord underscores the three countries’ commitment to deepen diplomatic, security, and defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. The agreement’s first announced goal is to create a […]

Duterte’s Decision to Scrap the VFA: Whimsical or Insidious?

Despite pleas from several senior Philippine senators to reconsider his plan to abrogate the Philippine-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), President Rodrigo Duterte has reportedly decided to scrap the 20-year old treaty. According to his presidential spokesperson, Duterte has already ordered his executive secretary to instruct Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin to serve the notice of termination […]

Balikatan 2019 and the Crisis in Philippine-China Rapprochement

From April 1 to 12, units from the major branches of the U.S. and Philippine militaries conducted 28 major exercises that tested and enhanced their skills and abilities in joint combat and humanitarian operations. During the two-week Balikatan (“Shoulder-to-Shoulder”) exercises, Filipino, American, and a small number of Australian troops participated in counter-terrorism training, amphibious operations […]

The Next Phase of Philippine Military Modernization: Looking to External Defense

President Rodrigo Duterte recently decided to bankroll the second phase of the 15-year Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program. The plan for the program involves three five-year phases, or “horizons.” The first horizon, which began in 2013 and ended in 2017, involved purchases of military hardware mainly for internal security challenges, though it […]

President Duterte’s Backtracking Prompts Hope for Compromise

Security analysts have questioned whether U.S.-Philippine defense cooperation can survive six years of a Philippine president seemingly driven by anti-Western ideology. Those fears should be somewhat allayed, as Duterte has walked back some of his earlier pronouncements and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has declared that the Philippine-U.S. security alliance will not be abrogated and that the EDCA will stay in place.

The Philippines and Japan Sign New Defense Agreement

Philippine defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Japanese ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa on February 29 signed a new defense agreement to allow the transfer of defense equipment and technology from Japan to the Philippines. It also provides for the Philippines and Japan to conduct joint research and development, and even joint production, of defense […]

Philippine Supreme Court Approves EDCA: Unlocking the Door for the Return of U.S. Strategic Footprint in Southeast Asia

On January 12 the Philippine Supreme Court came out with a courageous decision reaffirming the constitutionality of the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States. In a 10 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the EDCA, paving way for the return of forward-deployed U.S. forces to select Philippine […]

Philippines and Japan Strengthen a Twenty-First Century Security Partnership

During a bilateral meeting at the November 18-19 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in Manila, Philippine president Benigno Aquino and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe agreed in principle to negotiate the transfer of defense equipment and technology from the Japan Self-Defense Forces to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). If completed, this accord would […]

President Aquino’s Visit to Tokyo Boosts Philippine-Japan Partnership in Maritime Security

President Benigo Aquino III’s first state visit to Japan reflected the increasing tempo of security cooperation between these two U.S. allies that are facing a common security challenge in their maritime domains—China’s maritime expansion. President Aquino met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss how they can strengthen their countries’ strategic partnership in the face of […]

U.S.-Philippines Balikatan Exercise in the Face of Chinese Island Building

The Philippines and the United States will hold a large-scale 10-day military exercise known as Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) from April 20-30. This takes place in the face of China’s island-building activities in the South China Sea.  For Balikatan 2015, 11,740 American, Filipino, and Australian troops will conduct joint training exercises and maneuvers in three separate locations […]

Blunting China’s Realpolitik Approach: Liberalism through UNCLOS Arbitration

The 2012 Scarborough Shoal stand-off between the Philippines and China was the proverbial tipping point caused by China’s pattern of protracted, aggressive actions against the Philippines that began two years earlier. In mid-2010, the Philippine government had observed an increased Chinese naval presence and activities in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), recorded reports of […]