‘Good move’: Locsin hails Duterte’s threat to cancel VFA
MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. called a “good move” President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to cancel the visiting forces agreement with the United States, to see if the country’s long-time military ally is “serious” about its alliance with the Philippines.
Duterte threatened to terminate the VFA between the Philippines and the U.S. if the latter fail to rectify the cancelation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.
“Good move. Visas fall under US Justice Department in the Executive Branch,” the country’s top diplomat said over Twitter Friday.
Good move. Visas fall under US Justice Department in the Executive Branch. Either they're serious about US-PH military alliance or not. They can have de Lima after her trial. In fact they can pass a law making her a US citizen and part of US military so she is covered by VFA. https://t.co/KlmZyTEvqbFEATURED STORIES
— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) January 24, 2020
“Either they’re serious about US-PH military alliance or not,” he added.
The VFA, which took effect in 1999, covers the conduct of visiting American soldiers in the Philippines and serves as foundation for military exercises between the Philippines and the US.
Responding to Locsin’s tweet, Senator Panfilo Lacson tweeted back that the foreign affairs chief was “obviously joking” with his remark.
“You’re obviously joking, as I am now obviously stating the obvious,” the senator said.
Locsin, however, replied: “I wish.”
The senator earlier called as “unfortunate and unnecessary” the chief executive’s threat.
Lacson further explained that the VFA is a bilateral agreement “that went through some careful and diplomatic discussion” while a U.S. visa “is a conditional authorization granted to a foreigner and “may be cancelled without explanation or justification.”
“Pray tell, where is the connection?” Lacson earlier tweeted.
Dela Rosa disclosed on Wednesday that his visa was canceled after he got an official reply from the embassy about the status of his visa.
The embassy did not divulge the reason behind the cancelation of his visa, but Dela Rosa said it might have been because of his role in the Duterte administration’s bloody drug war.
The cancelation of the former top cop’s visa came on the heels of a rider in the 2020 budget of the U.S. banning the entry to the U.S. of Philippine officials proven to be behind the imprisonment of Senator Leila de Lima.
The U.S. senators who introduced that provision in the budget also called on the Philippine government to immediately release De Lima or at least give her a fair and credible trial.
Locsin, in the same tweet, said the U.S. “can have de Lima after her trial.”
“In fact they can pass a law making her a US citizen and part of US military so she is covered by VFA,” he added.
Edited by EDV
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.