No Senate stand yet on VFA abrogation
MANILA, Philippines— The Senate, as a body, has no stand yet on the government’s plan to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.
In fact, even Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III opted to keep to himself his opinion on the issue, citing the separation of powers among the executive, legislative and judiciary.
“Meron akong sariling opinion dyan pero (I have my own opinion but) I don’t want to preempt the opinion of my colleagues first and the unified Senate’s stand on the matter or opinion on the matter,” Sotto said told reporters on Monday.
So when asked if President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to scrap the VFA was the right move, Sotto said: “Opinion nya (Duterte) yun e. Opinion nya, diskarte nya…I would want to retain ika nga yung pagkakahiwalay naming tatlo— legislative, executive and judiciary.”
(That’s his own opinion. His own opinion, that’s his strategy…I would retain the separation of the three—legislative, executive, and judiciary)
“Diskarte ng executive yan (That’s the strategy of the executive). As Senate President I’d rather not indulge into saying whether that is right or wrong,” he added.
This does not mean however that other senators could not air their opinion on the issue, the Senate leader said.
“Pero (But) there’s no Senate stand on the matter as a body and as Senate President, I’d rather keep to myself muna (now) at this point,” he pointed out.
Sotto said the chamber could still come up later with a united stand —either through a simple statement or a resolution but only to express its sense on the VFA abrogation.
But it would be better also if the US would first find out Duterte’s perspective why he reached the decision to just terminate the agreement.
Sotto believes that the President’s threat to scrap the VFA was not only because of the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s US visa but was triggered by other issues, including the many accusations by some American senators against the Duterte administration.
As then police chief, Dela Rosa led the government’s bloody war on drugs that resulted in the deaths of thousands of drug suspects.
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