Duterte remains undecided on the abrogation of VFA; seeks public opinion

Marje Pelayo   •   February 25, 2021   •   163

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte, in a televised briefing Wednesday night said, he wants to hear the opinion of the Filipino people first before deciding on what to do with the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

“I must be frank. I do not keep secrets to the people I have approached. I have not yet decided on what to do, meaning to abrogate or renew, because I want to hear the people,” the President said.

On February 12, Duterte said the United States has to “pay” just compensation if it wants the VFA to continue.

The president drew flak over his statement, particularly from Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Panfilo Lacson who both likened the president’s demand to “extortion”.

Signed in 1998, the VFA is an agreement between the Philippines and the United States on the conduct of military activities in the country.

The agreement is in support of the Mutual Defense Treaty, another agreement which provides both military aid to each other in case their respective capitals and territories are attacked.

Last year, the Philippines sent a formal notice to the United States signifying its intention to terminate the VFA which stemmed from the latter’s cancellation of Senator Ronald Dela Rosa’s visa on the allegations of extrajudicial killings during his term as the Chief of the Philippine National Police from 2016 to 2018.

But President Duterte suspended the termination amid the prevailing coronavirus pandemic. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to listen to public’s sentiment on VFA issue

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is open to listening to the public about their sentiments on the issue regarding the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States (US).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said those who wish to voice out their opinions on whether the VFA should be abolished or not can send messages through the government hotline 8888.

Kung nais ninyong marinig ang inyong boses tungkol dito, huwag po kayong mag-atubili, kayo po ay magpadala ng e-mail o mensahe o kung anuman doon sa mga linya ng ating mga ahensiya sa gobyerno para makarating po kay Presidente (If you want your voices to be heard, do not hesitate and send an email or message through government agency hotlines for it to reach the President), he said.

Duterte, during his public address on Wednesday (February 24), said he is still undecided on what to do. He previously demanded the US to pay if it wants the VFA to continue.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the military will support the decision of the President but also said the Philippines should be able to defend itself without any assistance. -AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Robredo: Hindi ang Pangulo ang magdedesisyon kung qualified ako o hindi

Freema Gloria   •   February 17, 2021

“Hindi naman siya ang magdedesisyon kung qualified ako o hindi, pero iyong taumbayan iyong magdedesisyon.”

Ito ang sagot ni Vice President Leni Robredo sa panibagong pahayag ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte laban sa kanya na hindi siya karapat-dapat na maging pangulo ng bansa.

Ipinahayag ito ng bise presidente sa isang press conference noong Martes nang gabi matapos i-dismiss ng Korte Suprema ang electoral protest ng dating senador na si Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos laban sa kanya.

Sinabi pa ni Robredo, nakalulungkot isipin na sa kabila ng hangarin niyang makatulong sa pamahalaan ay puro panlalait at pang-iinsulto ang kanyang inaabot mula sa pangulo.

Matatandaang binatikos ni Duterte ang naging pahayag ni Robredo tungkol sa nais ng pangulo na pagbayarin ang Estados Unidos kapalit ng pagpapatuloy ng Visiting Forces Agreement sa bansa.

“Kaya ikaw, Ma’am. I’m sorry to say you are not really qualified to run for president. You do not know your role in this government”, pahayag ni Duterte sa isinagawang public address noong Lunes ng gabi.

Sa kabila nito, tiniyak ni Robredo na hindi siya magpapaapekto sa mga patutsadang ito ng pangulo.

Ipinagtanggol naman ni Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque ang pangulo na sinabing may karapatan si Pangulong Duterte na sabihin ito dahil naranasan na niyang maging presidente ng bansa.

“Tama po yan. Yan ay desisyon ng taumbayan. Pero kabahagi po ng taumbayan ay ang presidente na siya ay boboto rin at dahil siya ay naging presidente alam niya yung mga kakayahan na kinakailangan para maging isang presidente at ang kanyang naging assessment na sumatutal, hindi po angkop na maging presidente ang ating bise presidente.”

Samantala, kinumpirma ng tagapagsalita ni dating senador Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos na si Atty. Vic Rodriguez na tatakbo sa 2022 National Elections si Marcos

Ngunit hindi naman binanggit ni Rodriguez kung anong posisyon ito. Ang dating senador na lamang aniya ang mag-aanunsyo ng kanyang mga plano sa darating na halalan.

Lacson reiterates diplomatic approach more effective on PH-US VFA talks

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—A diplomatic approach will be more effective in discussing the Philippine-United States Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) instead of using strong words to send a message, according to Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson.

“The President may have used strong words to send his message across to the US. But certainly, there is a more civil and statesmanlike manner to ask for compensation from a longtime ally using the usual diplomatic channels and still get the same desired results,” he said.

Lacson made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday (February 12) said the US will have to “pay” if it wants the VFA with the Philippines to continue. Duterte also said that US’ “share of responsibility does not come free.”

The senator said the the country needs the VFA especially with recent Chinese intrusions into its territory, particularly in the West Philippine Sea. AAC

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