Lacson on Duterte’s threat to cancel PH-US VFA: Unfortunate, unnecessary

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 24, 2020   •   839

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Panfilo Lacson

Senator Panfilo Lacson has called President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to terminate the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, “unfortunate and unnecessary”.

Duterte’s threat stemmed from the cancellation of Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s United States (US) visa.

READ: Bato confirms his US visa has been canceled

According to Lacson, it is difficult to find a connection between Dela Rosa’s visa cancellation and the President’s threat to terminate the US-PH VFA.

The senator said a “visa is a conditional authorization given by a country to visiting foreigners which may be granted, cancelled, and even denied.”

“The VFA is a bilateral agreement between the Philippines and the US that went through some back and forth discussions prior to Senate ratification but not without intense plenary deliberation,” Lacson said in a text message. 

Duterte, on Thursday (January 23), gave the US a month to reverse the visa cancellation of Dela Rosa.

“I am warning you, kapag hindi ninyo ginawa ang correction diyan (if you don’t issue a correction), I will terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement,” Duterte said during his speech in San Isidro, Leyte.—AAC

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US, PH soldiers build two classrooms in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Robie de Guzman   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Two new classrooms jointly built by United States and Philippine troops have been opened in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

The new classrooms were inaugurated on February 19, at the Malatgao National Elementary School, the US Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

US Navy Lt. Joshua Moore said the new learning facilities, built by American and Filipino soldiers under arrangements through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), will be used by over 100 students residing in the community.

“This project provides a much-needed schoolhouse for the Malatgao National Elementary School in Palawan, which will be utilized by over 120 students,” Moore was quoted as saying in the statement.

“We are proud to assist this community working hand-in-hand with our Filipino counterparts,” he added.

Under the VFA, US and Philippine troops participate in war and disaster response drills and assist in humanitarian projects like erecting multi-purpose buildings or helping repair schools.

The deal, which came into force in 1999, was terminated by President Rodrigo Duterte last week. The notice of termination will take effect after 180 days.

The US Embassy said that in the last four years, its Navy engineers, known as Seabees, have completed 24 humanitarian projects across the Philippines.  

These projects include single- and double-room classrooms, water catchment systems, multipurpose school huts, and multipurpose communal buildings.

Joint construction operations such as these between the Philippine Navy Seabees, U.S. Navy Seabees, Philippine Marines, and local Barangays serve to strengthen the U.S.-Philippine partnership.

“I think working with U.S. troops will make our alliance stronger and continue to increase our bonds for years to come,” said Apprentice Fireman Construction Electrician Joel Nioda from Zamboanga City.

“This will help unify and grow our bilateral relationship,” he added.

Since October 2016, the U.S. Navy Seabees construction projects for Philippine communities are valued at more than PHP100,000,000 ($1.9 Million).

Lacson on quo warranto petition: I see no conflict in jurisdictions

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 11, 2020

Senator Panfilo Lacson

Senator Panfilo Lacson said there is no “conflict of jurisdiction” on the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) against ABS-CBN.

In a statement, Lacson said Solicitor General Jose Calida cannot be prevented from filing the petition in the case of the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.

“The quo warranto petition is under the original jurisdiction of the Court. Approval or renewal of legislative franchise is the jurisdiction of both houses of Congress. As such, I see no conflict in jurisdictions,” the statement reads.

Calido’s filing of the quo warranto petition against the media network drew backlash from several Senators, including Senator Risa Hontiveros. According to her, the executive should not ‘hijack’ Congress.

“Whether or not ABS-CBN violated the terms of their franchise, the right body to tackle this is Congress and the executive should not try to hijack this through the judiciary,” she said in a media interview.

Lacson said that based on Article VIII, Sec 5, Paragraph 1 of the 1987 Constitution, the Supreme Court exercises original jurisdiction over a petition for quo warranto, among other petitions filed by the State through the Office of the Solicitor General.

“Congress is likewise not prevented from exercising its powers under the same Constitution to act on the application for renewal or a new franchise,” Lacson added.

Calida filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court to revoke the existing franchise of ABS-CBN due to franchise violations.

“The legislative franchises of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., must be revoked. A franchise is a special privilege granted by the State, and should be restricted only to entities which faithfully adhere to our Constitution and laws,” Calida said in a statement.—AAC

Lacson to discuss anti-drug campaign with Robredo

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 7, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson (R) and Vice President Leni Robredo (L)

Senator Panfilo Lacson said he will meet with Vice President Leni Robredo to discuss about the anti-illegal drug campaign.

Lacson previously said he is willing to share whatever modest law enforcement experience he gained in his previous life.

He announced they are currently fixing the schedule of the meeting.

READ: Pangilinan asks public to support Robredo as she takes on drug war challenge

“We are fixing our schedule to sit down. I am grateful and humbled by her gesture. More than that, it shows her sincerity and seriousness in tackling her new task,” he said.

Robredo accepted the offer to become the drug czar on Wednesday (November 6) after President Rodrigo Duterte designated her as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) in a memorandum signed on October 31, days after Robredo stated in an interview that the administration’s drug war has been ineffective.—AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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