Postponement of VFA abrogation unchanged even with Bato’s fixed US visa – Palace
MANILA, Philippines — The deferment of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) remains unchanged even as the United States moved to rectify the visa cancellation of administration-allied Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Malacañang said Thursday.
In a televised press briefing, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said the Philippine government welcomes the US rectification of Dela Rosa’s canceled visa but noted that it would not affect the policy on VFA termination.
“Ang posisyon naman po ng Pilipinas, insulto ang nangyari na hindi binigyan ng visa ang isang halal na senador ng bayan. So nagagalak naman po kami na nalinawan ang mga Amerikano na hindi ganyan ang pagtrato sa mga halal ng taumbayan na mga Pilipinong opisyal,”
(The Philippines’ position is that it is an insult that a senator has not been granted a visa. So we are glad that the Americans finally realized that it’s not the proper way to treat a duly elected Filipino official.)
“Kung ito po ay magiging dahilan para magbago ang polisiya sa VFA? Well, hindi pa po nagbabago ‘yung huling binitawang salitang ni Presidente na ipagpapaliban po ng six months ang pagte-terminate sa VFA at ito pong pagpapaliban ay extendable by another six months. ‘Yan pa rin po ang posisyon,” he added.
(If this will change our policy on VFA? Well, the President’s latest directive to defer the termination for six months has not been changed and this postponement is extendable by another six months. That’s still the position.)
Dela Rosa recently revealed that the US Embassy in Manila had called him to fix his canceled visa following the phone call between President Duterte and US President Donald Trump last April.
To recall, Duterte had threatened to terminate the key military pact between the US and the Philippines if Washington does not “correct” its cancellation of Dela Rosa’s visa.
The VFA, which was ratified by the Senate in 1999, governs the conduct of US troops who take part in military exercises in the Philippines.
“I’m warning you. This is the first time. Kapag hindi ninyo ginawa ang correction diyan [If you do not correct that], one: I will terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement. Tapusin ko ‘yan pu**** in*** yan [I’ll end that son of a bitch],” Duterte said in a speech in the province of Leyte on January 23.
The Philippines officially pulled out from the agreement on February 11.
The termination is set to take effect 180 days later officially, but the government, as instructed by Duterte, suspended the abrogation for six months starting June 1 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the developments in the heavily-contested South China Sea. [ac]