ICHRP Condemns Proposed Visiting Forces Agreement between New Zealand and the Philippines

June 28, 2024

Earlier this month, New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Philippines Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo announced that they would enter into a Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) later this year. A VFA between the two countries is an agreement to have closer military ties making it easier for the armed forces of the two countries to work together. 

ICHRP condemns this agreement which is purported to ‘ensure peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific’. It will do the opposite and further heighten tensions between the USA and China in the South China Sea. 

The newly proposed VFA with New Zealand echoes the VFAs that the Philippine Government has previously signed with the USA and Australia, and adds to the increasing number of new military agreements brokered by the Marcos Jr regime. Since the beginning of his term, Marcos Jr has struck updated military agreements with the US, penned memorandums of understanding with Canada and the UK, and is currently in talks to form VFA-like agreements with France, Japan and now New Zealand.

These military agreements further embolden the fascist Philippine military to violate human rights and international humanitarian law against valiant Filipinos who are defending their national sovereignty and longing for genuine democracy, social justice and a just peace. These agreements amplify the increasing US militarization of the Asia-Pacific and do nothing to further peace in the region.

Tensions are high in the South China Sea – West Philippine Sea with both China and the US using the waters around the Philippines as a zone for their ongoing competition for influence in the region.

The US is becoming increasingly provocative in the region and just last month carried out military drills that were clearly orchestrated to goad China. While New Zealand troops did not participate in this exercise they were there as observers and the New Zealand Government has indicated that they may participate in future military drills in the region.

As New Zealand lines up with Australia and the USA, the prospect for peace diminishes and the people of the Philippines find themselves in the dangerous position of being on the front line in the escalating tensions between the two superpowers.

In the interests of peace for the people of the Philippines, ICHRP calls on the government of New Zealand to uphold an independent foreign policy, to junk the VFA and to use its diplomacy and influence to call for a just peace in the Philippines. We further call on people around the globe to rise up in opposition to the growing war mongering of the US and its allies in the Asia- Pacific.

For further information please contact Sheryl Cadman, ICHRP Global Council Member +64 21 776031

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