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Terminate VFA to assert sovereignty, not just to ‘avenge’ Bato, solon tells Duterte

/ 09:52 AM January 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A Makabayan bloc solon on Friday said President Rodrigo Duterte should terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to assert the country’s sovereignty, and not just to “avenge” Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, whose visa was recently cancelled by the United States under the auspices of its Magnitsky law.

And while he’s at it, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the President should also terminate the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), and the Enhanced Defence Coorperation Agreement (EDCA) with US.

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“He should just do it for the right reasons but not out of pique or just to use it as a leverage tool or bargaining chip for personal gains or out of spite,” Zarate said in a statement.

He said that the agreements are “onerous and violative of our national sovereignty,” and have “transformed the Philippines (into) the biggest US base in the world and should have long been terminated.”

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“They are vestiges of neocolonial control of the US, a tool for direct intervention in the country, facilitating for instance the return of their basing facilities, interference in the counterinsurgency operations,” he added.

The VFA covers the conduct of visiting American soldiers in the Philippines and serves as foundation for military exercises between the Philippines and the US.

It took effect in 1999.

“By abrogating these onerous treaties we can assert our sovereignty against US interests and the government’s action would not seem to be just a petty threat to an imagined slight of its official,” Zarate said.

Dela Rosa on Wednesday admitted that his visa had been cancelled.

While the US did not provide any explanation for the cancellation of his visa, the senator believed that it had something to do with the alleged extra-judicial killings (EJK) during his stint as head of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The US Senate Resolution 142, authored by US Senator Edward Markey, called on President Donald Trump to impose sanctions against Philippine officials pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

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The Magnitsky Act allows the US government to impose sanctions on foreign officials implicated in human rights abuses in any part of the world.

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TAGS: EDCA, Rodrigo Duterte, US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), VFA
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