The post-U.S. Relations between the United States and the Philippines have improved and expanded, with an emphasis on economic and trade relations while preserving the importance of the security dimension. U.S. investment continues to play an important role in the Philippine economy, while a strong security relationship is based on the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty. In February 1998, negotiators from the United States and the Philippines concluded the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which paved the way for enhanced military cooperation under the TDM. The agreement was approved by the Philippine Senate in May 1999 and entered into force on 1 June 1999. As part of the VFA, the United States conducted missions to Philippine ports and resumed major military exercises combined with the Philippine armed forces. Among the most important events in bilateral relations is President Ramos` declaration of 4 July 1996 on the occasion of Philippine Friendship Day on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the independence of the Philippines. Mr. Ramos visited the United States in April 1998 and then-President Estrada visited in July 2000. President Arroyo met with President Bush on an official visit in November 2001 and made an official visit to Washington on May 19, 2003. President Bush made a state visit to the Philippines on October 18, 2003, during which he addressed a joint meeting of the Philippine Congress – the first U.S.
president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. There are regular visits to the U.S. cabinet level and visits to Congress in the Philippines. The annual bilateral military exercises in Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) directly contribute to the efforts of the Philippine armed forces to eradicate the terrorists abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah and bring their development to areas once tormented by terrorists, including Basilan and Jolo. This is not only combined military training, but also civil and military affairs and humanitarian projects. The International Military Education and Training (IMET) program is the largest in the Pacific and the third largest in the world, and a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) was signed in November 2002. Similarly, cooperation between law enforcement agencies has reached a new level: the US and Philippine authorities have cooperated to charge numerous terrorists, implement the country extradition treaty and train thousands of Philippine police officers.
There is a senior law counselor who assists the Philippine National Police with its transformation program. All other areas currently occupied by the army and navy are not considered bases, but temporary facilities that must be evacuated within two years. I am assured by the U.S. military that most of these temporary facilities will be evacuated and made available to the government and private use, as titled, in a much shorter time frame. While the Tydings-McDuffie Act did not compel the United States to use its bases in the Philippines for our defence, the joint resolution of the U.S. Congress of June 1944 became aware of our war association and promised the use of U.S. military facilities in the Philippines for our mutual protection. For us, it was the decisive part of all this development.