‘Sarap ng buhay:’ ‘Bato’ says US Embassy fixing canceled visa
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Wednesday bared that the US Embassy in Manila had called him regarding his visa following the phone call between President Rodrigo Duterte and US President Donald Trump last April.
“After mag-usap si President Duterte at si President Trump, tinawagan ako ng US Embassy na asikasuhin ko yung visa ko,” Dela Rosa said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel’s “Headstart.”
(After President Duterte and President Trump’s phone call, the US Embassy called me and advised me to have my visa processed.)
The two leaders reportedly discussed the coronavirus response during the said phone call.
“Right after nung nag-usap sila, tinawagan ako ng embassy na after COVID at mag-report na yung kanilang mga staff, then imbitahan ako para asikasuhin yung aking visa,” he added.
(Right after they talked, the embassy informed me that I can go to their office after the COVID-19 pandemic is over and one their staff reports for work.)
Dela Rosa said he would avail of the US Embassy’s offer to process his visa.
“Yes, pupunta ako [sa embassy],” he said.
(Yes, I will go.)
Last January 23, President Rodrigo Duterte gave the US government 30 days to rectify the cancellation of Dela Rosa’s visa or he would abrogate the two-decade-old Visiting Forces Agreement.
The Philippines officially pulled out from the defense agreement on February 11.
However, the government suspended the VFA termination in light of the pandemic and “heightened superpower tensions.”
Asked if the suspension of the VFA abrogation was connected with the phone call from the embassy, Dela Rosa surmised that Trump may have instructed the embassy to process his visa.
“To be frank, my take on that, after sila nag-usap, iyong dalawang Presidente., nagkaintindihan sila. Maybe nagbigay ng instruction iyong Presidente ng Amerika na ayusin ninyo iyong visa ni Bato kaya tumawag sa akin iyong US Embassy na ayusin daw nila,” he said.
(To be frank, my take on that, after they talked, they were able to come to an agreement. Maybe, the US President gave an instruction to have my visa fixed that’s why the embassy called me.)
“Wala man ako doon nang nag-usap sila… Hindi ko lang alam, baka may instruction sa kanila na ayusin,” he added.
(I was not there during the phone call….I don’t really know, maybe they gave instructions to each other.)
In a Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum, Senate President Vicente Sotto III also disclosed that Trump “did not agree” with Dela Rosa’s visa cancellation, as told to them by Duterte in a previous meeting.
“I don’t know if I am at liberty to tell you this…when I met with the President in the clubhouse, a few weeks ago, nagkita kami, kasama ko si [Senator] Bong Go, there were other executives there. Nagpulong kami na kami-kami lang, he (Duterte) just got off the phone a few days before that with President Trump,” Sotto said.
(I don’t know if I am at liberty to tell you this…when I met with the President in the clubhouse, a few weeks ago we met, I was with Senator Bong Go, there were other executives there. We had a meeting, he (Duterte) just got off the phone a few days before that with President Trump).
“Merong ginamit na word si President Trump na hindi ko uulitin, pero sinabi ni Presidente sa amin: ‘Those blank people from the State Department, they should not have done that in the first place.’ Yun ang sabi ni Trump. Kaya hindi ako nagtataka na napagsabihan si Sen. Dela Rosa na pwedeng ibalik or irenew yung visa niya. Because President Trump himself did not agree with what happened,” he added.
(President Trump used a word that I would not repeat anymore but President Duterte told us that Trump said: ‘Those blank people from the State Department, they should not have done that in the first place.’ That’s why I’m no longer surprised that Sen. Dela Rosa was informed that his visa can be processed. Because President Trump himself did not agree with what happened).
But Sotto said he was not sure if the US government’s move to rectify Dela Rosa’s visa is connected with the Philippines’ decision to suspend the VFA abrogation.
“Ewan ko kung konektado, kasi hindi binanggit ni Presidente, basta magkausap sila ni President Trump, pinagusapan nila yung COVID, may pinagusapan pa silang bagay,” the Senate President said.
(I’m not sure if it’s connected, because President Duterte did not bring it up but President Trump and him also talked about the COVID, among other things).
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