Trump and Duterte in 2017. Photo: Rolex Dela Pena/AFP via Getty Images
The Philippines has announced that it no longer plans to terminate a major military pact with the U.S. — at least for now.
Why it matters: The Visiting Forces Agreement — which allows U.S. and Philippine troops to conduct joint exercises and share intelligence — will resume at least for the next six months amid China's continued militarization in the South China Sea.
Driving the news: The Philippines' Foreign Affairs department on Monday informed the U.S. that "in light of political and other developments in the region, the termination of the agreement is hereby suspended."
- The U.S. Embassy welcomed the move: "Our long-standing alliance has benefited both countries, and we look forward to continued close security and defense cooperation with the Philippines."
Flashback: Manila sent a notice of termination to Washington in February following the cancellation of a U.S. visa for Ronald dela Rosa, a close aid to President Rodrigo Duterte seen as the architect of Duterte's deadly drug war.
- The announcement that the VFA would be terminated led to concerns about U.S. deterrence capacity in the critical South China Sea, where the territorial claims of China, the Philippines and four other countries overlap.
The big picture: The Philippines is America's oldest military ally in Asia, but the relationship has deteriorated under Duterte, who openly prefers to partner with China.