‘Bato’ welcomes Duterte decision to cancel VFA abrogation
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Tuesday welcomed the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to cancel the abrogation of a 20-year old military accord with the United States, saying foreign policies can be made flexible, depending on certain “realities.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin announced “upon the President’s instruction” the suspension for at least six months its earlier decision to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States.
Dela Rosa earlier described himself as the “whipping boy” of the VFA since the abrogation came after the US’ cancellation of his visa.
“Foreign policies can be flexible at times depending on the realities obtained in the bilateral, regional, or global arena of foreign relations,” the senator said in a text message.
“I welcome that decision of the President,” he added.
It was only last February when the Philippines officially terminated the treaty with the US.
Other senators, like Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, also welcomed the suspension of the VFA termination.
“I am in favor of having a VFA at this time, maybe for another 50 years or until we are economically strong and military-capable to defend ourselves,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said in a separate text message to reporters.
For his part, Drilon called this “sudden policy change” a “welcome development.”
“The unhampered implementation of the VFA will serve the interest of our country, particularly with regard to the preservation of our rights over parts of the West Philippine Sea,” Drilon said in a statement.
“The abrupt abrogation of the VFA last February as initiated by the President – which was done amid the increasing aggressiveness and the bullying of China – is disadvantageous to us. What the country truly needs is a stable foreign policy that promotes our interest,” he added.
Earlier, Drilon said the recall of the VFA abrogation will not affect the petition lodged by senators before the Supreme Court on matters involving the chamber’s role in any treaty termination.
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