Palace: No need for Duterte to consult Cabinet on terminating VFA
MANILA, Philippines — There’s no need for President Rodrigo Duterte to consult members of his Cabinet on his decision to order the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, Malacañang said Monday.
“The President is the chief architect (of the government), hindi siya kailangang mag-consult (there’s no need for him to consult the Cabinet),” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“Kung meron siyang (Maybe if he has) doubts on certain areas, that’s the time he will consult (them),” he added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., in a recent Senate foreign relations committee hearing on the termination of VFA, said that he, along with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, was not consulted by Duterte on his decision to terminate the military pact.
But Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said that members of the Cabinet “fully” support the President’s move.
He also said Duterte has been studying the move after the US Senate demanded the release of Senator Leila De Lima, a staunch critic of the President who has been in detention since 2017 over drug-related charges.
Duterte has ordered the termination of the military pact after the US canceled the visa of his longtime confidant Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who has also led the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs.
Dela Rosa, who was Duterte’s chief of police from 2016 to 2018, said the US Embassy did not explain why his visa was voided but he acknowledged it has something to do with alleged extrajudicial killings under his watch.
Signed in 1998, the VFA accords legal status to US troops who are rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.
Edited by KGA
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