The support reinforces and accelerates progress for the Philippines and slows, if not reverses, the spread of the Islamic State to Southeast Asia. A visiting agreement (VFA) is an agreement between a country and a foreign nation where military forces are visiting that country. Visiting force agreements are, in their intent, similar to the status of force agreements (SOFAs). Typically, a VFA temporarily covers visiting services, while a SOFA usually covers forces stationed in the host country as well as visiting agents. Members of Dutertes` own cabinet also appear to be seriously concerned about his VFA decision. They have tried to discuss their concerns with him cautiously, but they understand that they are unlikely to change their minds. To make their view more tasty, they probably tried to emphasize the importance of the VFA in maintaining U.S. special forces support for counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines against jihadists. Uncertainty about the future of military cooperation between the United States and the Philippines poses challenges to the Trump administration`s strategy of free and open Indo-Pacific. Adm. Philip S. Davidson, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said: “But our ability to assist the Philippines and its extremist fight in the South, our ability to train and operate in the Philippines and with Philippine forces, would be called into question without this visit agreement.

Beyond this reading of the tea leaves, Duterte may not, in principle, have the sole margin of appreciation to decide the fate of the VFA.