Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – The Philippines is currently investigating the effects of a possible exit from a 1998 agreement with the United States on the treatment of its military personnel, known as the Visiting Forces Agreement. The main effect of the agreement is to require the U.S. government to notify the Philippine authorities when it is aware of the arrest, arrest or detention of Filipino personnel visiting the United States and, at the request of the Philippine government, to invite the competent authorities to exercise jurisdiction on behalf of the Philippines, except in cases of particular interest to the State Department or the Secretary of Defense.  [VIII1] The waiver of U.S. jurisdiction is complicated because the United States is a federation of American states and therefore a federation of jurisdictions. The agreement contains various procedural safeguards to protect due process rights and prohibit dual threats.  [VIII 2-6] The agreement also exempts Filipino personnel from visa formalities and ensures expedited entry and exit;  [IV] requires the United States to accept Philippine driver`s licenses;  [V] authorizes Philippine personnel to carry weapons to U.S. military facilities during deployment;  [VI] provides for exemptions and import/export duties for Filipino personnel;  [X, XI] requires the United States to provide medical care to Filipino personnel;  [XIV] and exempts Philippine vehicles, ships and aircraft from landing or port charges, shipping or overflight charges, road tolls or any other charge for the use of U.S. military installations.  [XV] Panelo, who also acts as chief legal chairman, said it was not necessary to wait for a response from the US government, as the VFA itself says it can be terminated by a written message from one of the countries. Article 9 of the VFA states that „this agreement remains in effect until the expiry of 180 days from the date on which one of the parties announces in writing to the other party that it wishes to terminate the contract.“ The second challenge, Suzette Nicolas y Sombilon Vs.
Alberto Romulo, et al. / Jovito R. Salonga, et al. Vs. Daniel Smith, et al. / Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, et al. Vs. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, et al., on 2 January 2007, was re-decided by the Supreme Court on 11 February 2009. In deciding this second challenge, Court 9-4 (with two judges who inhibit) ruled that „the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) concluded on February 10, 1998 between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States is in accordance with the Constitution … The decision continued, particularly with respect to the subic Rape case, „…
the Romulo-Kenney agreements of 19 and 22 December 2006 are not in accordance with the VFA and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, respondent, is responsible for negotiating without delay with the representatives of the United States the corresponding agreement on detention centres under the Philippine authorities, in accordance with Article V, para. VFA, until the status quo is maintained until further decisions of the Court.  UP professor Harry Roque, an adviser to former Senator Jovito Salonga, one of the petitioners in the case, said in a telephone interview about the decision on the consistency of the VFA. „We`re going to appeal… We hope to be able to convince the other judges to join the four dissenters.  The VFA also provides for a reciprocal or contrary agreement signed on 9 October 1998. This agreement applies to Filipino personnel temporarily sent to the United States. Under Article V of the agreement, the custody of U.S. personnel whose case falls under Philippine jurisdiction must „immediately reside with the U.S. military authorities if they wish“ from the time the crime was committed, until all legal proceedings are completed. However, U.S.
military authorities make the accused available to the Philippine authorities „in a timely manner for investigations or judicial proceedings related to the offence.“ The United States