Home National News Duterte's decision to scrap VFA remains 'unchanged'

Duterte’s decision to scrap VFA remains ‘unchanged’

By Azer Parrocha

 

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is still firm in his decision to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States, Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo reiterated that Duterte’s decision to scrap the VFA was in retaliation for US senators’ interference in the case of Senator Leila de Lima who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City due to her involvement in illegal drugs.

Panelo emphasized that Duterte felt that the actions made by US lawmakers were as good as “assaulting” the country’s sovereignty.

“I asked him, ‘Is your position unchanged?’ ‘Yes.’ I think mas importante iyon, iyong position niya (I think his position is more important),” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Panelo, however, said he could not tell what it would take for the President to change his mind.

“That will depend on the President’s thinking on the matter. I cannot read his mind at this time. Depende sa kaniya (It will depend on him),” Panelo said.

He said Duterte’s position may change “if circumstances changed”.

Earlier, Panelo bared that a phone conversation between Duterte and US President Donald Trump may “soon” take place amid the abrogation of the VFA.

Asked if Trump could push Duterte into changing his position, Panelo said it was Duterte’s call.

An amendment to the US 2020 budget gives US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the jurisdiction to bar Philippine government officials involved in de Lima’s “wrongful detention” from entering the US.

The US Senate has also passed Senate Resolution 142, asking Trump to impose sanctions on Philippine government officials allegedly behind de Lima’s detention.

Cabinet’s support

Despite Duterte’s decision to scrap the VFA without consulting his Cabinet, Panelo said all its members have expressed support to the Chief Executive’s position.

“Sinabi nila review, pero sinabi niya rin nila na (They said they will review but they also said) we are, we will fully support the President,” Panelo said.

Panelo also stressed anew that Duterte is the “chief architect” of foreign policy and did not need any consultation from Cabinet.

“The President is the chief architect, hindi siya kailangan mag-consult. Magaling na Presidente, abogado pa. Kung mayroon siyang doubts on certain areas, siguro (he doesn’t need to consult. A good president and a lawyer. If he has doubts about certain areas, perhaps) that’s the time he consults,” he added.

Inked by the Philippines and the US on Feb. 10, 1998, the VFA allows US troops to visit the Philippines without passport and visa restrictions and gives them the privilege to use their permits and licenses in the host country.

The agreement also grants the US jurisdiction over its military personnel who commit crimes in the Philippines unless their lawless acts can be punished in Manila.

The deal can be revoked by the Philippines by sending a formal notification to the US. (PNA)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

MUST READ

Lacson defends anti-terror bill from critics

By Jose Cielito Reganit   MANILA – The Anti-Terrorism Bill passed by the Senate has enough legal safeguards against perceived abuses that may be committed during its...

Solon urges NSWMC to provide list of non-eco-friendly products

By Filane Mikee Cervantes   MANILA – Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda on Thursday urged the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) to formulate a list of non-environmentally...

Parlade renews call for CHR to take action vs. Reds’ atrocities

By Priam Nepomuceno   MANILA – A ranking military official called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) anew to take action against atrocities of the New...

DOT ramps up tourism marketing in int’l, local markets

By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz   MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) is set to ramp up its marketing of the country’s tourism industry amid the...

No need for Duterte’s guidance on unaired ad refund: Palace

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos   MANILA – Broadcast firm ABS-CBN Corp. need not seek President Rodrigo Duterte’s guidance on how to donate the PHP2.6 million refund the...