In view of the impending expiration of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement in 1991, the Philippines and the United States negotiated for a possible extension of the military bases agreement. On September 16, 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the proposed RP-US Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Security which, in effect, would have extended the presence of US military bases in the Philippines.
On July 18, 1997, the United States panel met with the Philippine panel to exchange notes on the complementing strategic interests of the United States and the Philippines in the Asia-Pacific region.” Both sides discussed, among other things, the possible elements of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA for brevity).
On October 5, 1998, President Joseph E. Estrada, through respondent Secretary of Foreign Affairs, ratified the VFA.
Petitioners went to the Supreme Court to question the validity of the VFA as it allege the following:
Whether the VFA constitute an abdication of Philippine sovereignty and deprived Philippine courts of their jurisdiction to hear and try offenses committed by US military personnel?
No, the VFA is an agreement which defines the treatment of United States troops and personnel visiting the Philippines. It provides for the guidelines to govern such visits of military personnel, and further defines the rights of the United States and the Philippine government in the matter of criminal jurisdiction, movement of vessel and aircraft, importation and exportation of equipment, materials and supplies. Philippine authorities shall have jurisdiction over United States personnel with respect to offenses committed within the Philippines and punishable under the law of the Philippines.