Robin Padilla wants DFA to hold info drive on VFA, MDT
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Robin Padilla wants the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to hold an information drive on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).
Padilla’s suggestion was raised during the Senate finance subcommittee’s hearing on Friday after the DFA shared its plan to hold an information campaign on the arbitral award on the West Philippine Sea.
“Kanina po ang sinabi po nila, para po sa information, public information ng West Philippine Sea, ‘yung arbitral ruling na nanalo po tayo.
(They earlier announced a plan on public information on the arbitral award we won on the West Philippine Sea.)
“Ang sinasabi ko po, dapat kapag gumawa po sila ng publisidad patungkol diyan, dapat ay kasama po ang patungkol sa Visiting Forces Agreement at ang Mutual Defense Treaty sapagkat iyan po ay magkakapatid,” said Padilla, Senate committee on public information and mass media chairperson.
(I’m saying if they create publicity about that, it should include the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty because they come together.)
(EDITORS NOTE: The VFA – It was finalized in 1998 between the Philippines and the United States. US service members traveling to the Philippines on official business (such as for bilateral training or military exercises with the Philippines) will find the entry process streamlined thanks to this agreement, and any problems that arise as a result of US forces being stationed in the Philippines will be handled according to a set of outlined procedures. The MDT- The US hasn’t followed up on its MDT promise regarding attacks on Philippine assets in disputed waters. Security objectives can be achieved without resorting to large-scale confrontations in asymmetrical and hybrid warfare through gray zone techniques. China’s use of similar gray zone techniques in recent years is believed to counter the US influence and conventional military power. The Philippine government has not yet challenged Chinese actions in the South China Sea in court. Even after the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in July 2016 that the Philippines had won in its maritime claims dispute against China, incursions by Chinese ships have continued. To protect marine life from Chinese ships that damage coral reefs, fishermen and farmers in Palawan petitioned the Philippine Supreme Court to enforce the Fisheries Code. – source Center for Strategic and International Studies )
Padilla pointed out that information dissemination on the MDT and VFA is necessary as people have become “too brave” knowing that the United States (US) will defend the Philippines in case of attacks.
The senator stressed that the US Congress must convene first when the Philippines is attacked under the MDT.
“Sa Mutual Defense Treaty po kasi, malinaw po doon na dadaan pa tayo sa Kongreso ng Amerika kapag tayo po ay inatake. Papa’no po kaya ‘yan?” he asked.
(In the Mutual Defense Treaty, it is clear that we must go through the US Congress when we are under attack. How is that?)
“’Yung iba pong mga kababayan natin ay masyadong naniniwala na kapag tayo po ay inatake kagyat, kagyat nandito ang Amerika. Pero doon po sa defense treaty dadaan pa tayo sa Kongreso. Magbobotohan pa sila. Baka po bago sila pumayag at sila’y ano ay nabura na po tayo sa mapa,” Padilla lamented.
(Our other fellow Filipinos believe that America will immediately be here when we are under attack. But the defense treaty we will pass through US Congress. They will vote. They may help us when we are already erased from the map.)
The senator then pushed for the information drive so Filipinos learn not to be “too brave” and not bypass dialogues.
“Siguro kailangan po maging malinaw ang ating pagpapaliwanag sa ating mga kababayan para huwag po tayong nagiging masyadong matapang,” he said.
(Our explanation to our fellow Filipinos should be clear so we will not be overly bold.)
“Kasi alam niyo po, para po tayong langaw na nakapatong sa kalabaw na masyado po tayong matapang minsan. Nakakalimutan natin makipag-usap,” urged Padilla.
(We’re as courageous as a fly on a carabao. Initiating communication was overlooked on our part.)
While Padilla pushed for spreading awareness on the DFA’s role and the MDT, VFA, and arbitral ruling on the West Philippine Sea, he stressed that what’s important for fisherfolk is to fish freely.
“Patungkol sa West Philippine Sea hangga’t hindi nakikita ng ating kababayan na nakapangisda ang kababayan natin doon, kahit tayo mag-tumbling, hindi nila maintindihan ‘yan,” he said.
(On the ground, at the grassroots, our people won’t understand the role of the DFA, the MDT and the arbitral ruling. In the West Philippine Sea, their bottom line is to fish there freely, no matter how we explain.) —with reports from Irish Lorraine Perez, INQUIRER.net trainee
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