Although he doesn’t share the Chief Executive’s opinion, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. defended the decision of President Duterte to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States over Washington’s “insult to our sovereignty”.
Locsin said Duterte’s reaction to the “senatorial shit” from the US is warranted and shows that the country has a leader with strong political will.
“We need a President who blows his top when his country gets senatorial ‘shet’ from the US. Let me tell you this, he has the constitutional power and authority to abrogate any treaty for any reason especially an insult to our sovereignty,” the country’s top diplomat said.
On Friday night (February 7), Malacanang announced that Duterte has already given instruction for Locsin to send the official notice informing Washington that Manila is terminating the two countries’ VFA.
“PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) is instructing ES (Medialdea) to tell SFA (Locsin) to send the notice of termination to the US government,” Duterte’s Spokesman and Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said.
This happened just after the Senate conducted a hearing on the matter, where Locsin said he was only pushing for a review—not termination—of the VFA.
“The DFA at this point proffers no preference for any of these options, but at this point I think a review, a vigorous review of the Visiting Forces Agreement is called for,” Locsin said in the Senate hearing on the agreement forged in 1999 that governs the conduct of US troops who take part in military exercises in the Philippines.
He added: “While the Philippines has the prerogative to terminate the VFA anytime, the continuance of the agreement is deemed to be more beneficial to the Philippines compared to any benefits were it to be terminated. Our contribution to regional defense is anchored on our military alliance with the world’s last superpower.”
Some senators and other officials also dissuaded the President from terminating the VFA.
Duterte said the cancellation of the US visa of Senator Ronald dela Rosa was the last straw that drove him to end the VFA, noting that he first had the idea when the US Senate included in the 2020 budget bill of the US a provision barring the entry of Philippine officials who have something to do with the incarceration of Senator Leila de Lima.
The US senators were demanding the release of de Lima, who, they claim, was a victim of political persecution.
But Locsin said the lesson here for the US Senate was “plead, don’t demand”