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Senator Ronald dela Rosa

OPINION: Humility produces instant results

in Editorial/News/Tabloid PH News

Even a giant should practice humility.

This was probably the lesson learned by ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ broadcast giant, as the company’s management finally opted to apologize to President Duterte instead of playing hardball with the Chief Executive that has already jeopardized the network’s very existence.

During the Senate hearing on the Kapamilya network’s franchise renewal last Monday (February 24), ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak aired the company’s apology to Duterte. He said: “We were sorry if we offended the President. That was not the intention of the network.” 

The display of humility produced instant results, based on the reactions from people close to the Chief Executive. 

Senator Ronald dela Rosa said he was already “one step closer” to supporting ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal. Senator Bong Go said he was willing to talk Duterte into forgiving ABS-CBN and supporting a fresh franchise for the network. 

Then came the statement from the President himself that he has accepted the network’s apology, although he is still letting Congress decide on the renewal. 

The best statement of support that ABS-CBN got, however, was from Duterte’s favorite daughter, Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is being touted as the likely successor of Duterte in 2022.

She said: ”Davao City fully supports ABS-CBN sa kanilang pagpapa-renew ng kanilang franchise. Of course malaki din ang suporta ng ABS-CBN sa Davao City at sa buong bansa…Hopefully ma-resolve in a very positive way ang issue ng franchise ng ABS-CBN…Of course, alam niyo si President Duterte, maawain ‘yan na tao. Iniisip din niya ‘yung trabaho ng maraming employees ng ABS-CBN.”

At the House of Representatives, the committee that has shown reluctance in acting on the ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bills just directed the National Telecommunications Commission to give the network a provisional authority to operate effective May 4, or the day when its franchise would expire if still not renewed by Congress.

With all these developments, it is now hoped that the words are turned into action and the goodwill reciprocated.

President Duterte and his supporters have repeatedly said that ABS-CBN has shown bias in its reporting on numerous occasions, and evidently slanting its stories against the Duterte administration.

But Katigbak said: “Today, we want to make a categorical statement together with our chairman Mark Lopez that ABS-CBN does not and will not have its own political agenda.” It is high time that the network translated this into action via its reporting. 

With the crises—both manmade and natural—faced by the country today, Filipinos don’t need the kind of reporting that only fans division among the people. ABS-CBN should prove that it is really not allowing any political camp or group to advance its interest through its reporting.

ABS-CBN can always exercise its freedom of the press and expression, but not in a manner that is obviously slanted toward an agenda.

This doesn’t mean the network will now just turn a blind eye to wrongdoings or inaction on the part of the government. But these reports should be based on facts and balanced, not just focusing on the allegations of one side.

Of course, those in the political opposition and the leftist groups wouldn’t like this idea. Surely, Duterte and ABS-CBN patching up their differences would bring frowns to their faces. Leave them be. 

Just imagine the country’s largest broadcast network working together with a President that has an approval rating of 87 percent. This should do wonders in calling Filipinos into collective action in tackling the crises being faced by the country today.

Duterte wants PH to strengthen military on its own, not keen on defense pacts with China, other nations

in News/Tabloid PH News

Contrary to insinuations that President Duterte will also be pivoting toward China for the country’s defense policies, Malacanang stressed that the Chief Executive will not entertain a joint military pact with Beijing after he junked the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US.

Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s chief legal counsel and spokesman, said the President would rather that the country rely on its budget and capabilities in strengthening its military prowess than continue relying on foreign powers.

“Talagang desidido siya (Duterte) na tumayo na tayo sa ating kakayahan. If that will mean you will be spending more, then let’s spend more,” Panelo said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) on Friday (February 21).

Panelo narrated that he asked if Duterte is looking at having a pact similar to the VFA with China or any other country, and the President answered “no”.

Manila has already informed Washington of its decision to end the 20-year VFA, which legalizes the presence of US troops on Philippine soil and the joint US-Philippines military exercises. 

This was after Washington included in its 2020 budget law a provision that bans the entry of Philippine officials who had  something to do with the incarceration of opposition Senator Leila de Lima. 

Subsequently, the US visa of Senator Ronald dela Rosa was scrapped.

But there is still a possibility that the Executive Branch’s move to end VFA without prior approval from the Senate could be questioned before the Supreme Court.

Panelo said for the President, the country’s only enemies are the terrorists and Moro rebels, which can be handled by the government troops. “Sabi niya ito lang ang kalaban natin. Kaya natin iyon dahil kung hindi natin kaya ito, wala tayong karapatan maging gobyerno.”

Locsin defends Duterte’s decision to end VFA

in Entertainment/Tabloid PH Showbiz

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”

Duterte says he already decided to end VFA when US Senate moved to ban entry of PH officials

in News/Tabloid PH News

President Duterte clarified that he had long decided to terminate Manila’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with Washington, or right about the time the United States Senate moved to ban the entry of Philippine officials who may have a role in the incarceration of Senator Leila de Lima.

Duterte said on Wednesday night (January 29) that contrary to what his critics are saying, his decision to end the VFA was not prompted by the cancellation of the US visa of Senator Ronald dela Rosa, who was the chief of the Philippine National Police when de Lima was detained for alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade. 

“It started when they mentioned the US resolution in the US Senate. Noon pa lang ‘yung utak ko gumagalaw na. Ganoon ako. Hindi ako naghihintay. I just announce late. Pinapauna ko. Pero at that time I decided if they do this; I do it not only for Dela Rosa but for every Filipino,” the Chief Executive stressed.

He made it clear that the decision to terminate the VFA  was not just out of whim.

And to further show how disgusted he is, Duterte ordered the members of the Cabinet to refrain from travelling to the US indefinitely. “I will not allow any Cabinet member to go there at this time.”

To set the tone for the “boycott” on the travel to US, Duterte also rejected the invitation from President Donald Trump for the Philippine leader to attend a meeting in the US with other Southeast Asian heads of state. He is also not sending a representative to the Trump-proposed US-Asean Summit on March 4 in Las Vegas. 

Duterte said he declined the invitation for “strategic, geopolitical considerations.”

The VFA, like the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty, are the military agreements that the Philippines currently has with the US. It will end 180 days after a notice was given by either party. 

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said the process for terminating the VFA  has started. “The President feels that we cannot sit down and watch idly.”

UPDATE: Duterte won’t be cowed by world’s most powerful nation

in News/Tabloid PH News

President Duterte again showed that he will not be cowed by the most powerful nation in the world after he decided not just to turn down the offer of US President Donald Trump to visit Washington but also to end the two-decade-old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

These actions from Duterte were in retaliation to the Washington’s travel ban versus Philippine officials who had something to do with the prosecution of opposition Senator Leila de Lima, as contained in the 2020 budget law of the US. Already, the US visa of Senator Ronald dela Rosa, the Philippine National Police chief when de Lima was detained, has been cancelled. 

Duterte initially gave Washington one month to reverse dela Rosa’s visa cancellation or the VFA will be terminated by Manila. But on Friday afternoon (January 24), Panelo said the process to terminate the VFA has been started

Panelo said: “The process for terminating the same has started. The President feels that we cannot sit down and watch idly.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said they are of the opinion that the Executive branch can end the VFA on its own, or without waiting for the Senate’s concurrence, similar to what Manila did when the country opted out of the International Criminal Court. “There is a view which I think I shared once—on pulling out of ICC as I did as UN ambassador—that while Senate concurrence is required to make a treaty; none is required to terminate it which is an entirely personal Presidential power. But that’s just a view.”

This view was shared by former Senate President Franklin Drilon and other senators.

The VFA, like the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty, are the existing military agreements that the Philippines currently has with the US. It will end 180 days after a notice was given by either party.

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