The primary effect of the Agreement is that it allows the U.S. government to retain jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel accused of committing crimes in the Philippines, unless the crimes are “of particular importance to the Philippines”. This means that for crimes without this significance, the U.S. can refuse to detain or arrest accused personnel, or may instead prosecute them under U.S. jurisdiction. Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the local courts have one year to complete any legal proceedings. The Agreement also exempts U.S. military personnel from visa and passport regulations in the Philippines.
The Agreement contains various procedural safeguards which amongst other things establish the right to due process and proscribe double jeopardy. The Agreement also prevents U.S. military personnel from being tried in Filipino religious or military courts; requires both governments to waive any claims concerning loss of materials (though it does require that the U.S. honor contractual arrangements and comply with U.S. law regarding payment of just and reasonable compensation in settlement of meritorious claims for damage, loss, personal injury or death, caused by acts or omissions of United States personnel); exempts material exported and imported by the military from duties or taxes; and allows unrestricted movement of U.S. vessels and aircraft in the Philippines.