US may not easily implement ban on officials behind De Lima’s detention – DFA

Maris Federez   •   December 24, 2019   •   387

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin Jr. believes that the US will not easily implement the ban on government officials who were involved in the arrest and detention of Senator Leila de Lima.

On his twitter post, Sec. Locsin said he respects the rights of the US government not to issue a visa or bar any government official who was behind de Lima’s detention as the Philippines is doing the same as one aspect of its sovereignty.

“The only way for accused to go free is after trial; if convicted after pardon. Resolutions by legislature/ executive—native or alien—are of no moment. US can refuse visas to anyone it wants for any reason; the PH deported a nun in that way. It is an aspect of sovereignty,” his tweet reads.

This, following US President Donald Trump’s move of signing the 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill wherein the US Secretary of State was given such authority in one of its provisions.

Section 7022 of the measure states that the US Secretary shall submit to the concerned congressional committees a plan to implement corresponding sanctions on gross violation of human rights” particularly “unjust or wrongful detention,”  including those of American citizens and nationals.

Democrat Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy who have earlier said that De Lima’s detention was politically motivated introduced the amendment which the US Senate Appropriations Committee passed in September.

Locsin, however, said that the US Justice and State Departments may not exercise that granted authority for higher reasons of the state like the Indo-Pacific strategy.

The US government is pushing for the Indo-Pacific strategy particularly in countries in Asia for unrestricted trade flow, freedom of navigation, and respect to the rule of law. –(with details from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Locsin orders immediate repatriation of Filipinos on quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has ordered the immediate repatriation of Filipinos aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan.

In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Locsin announced he has ordered the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan to repatriate Filipinos on the ship after its passengers who tested negative for novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were allowed to disembark after the 14-day quarantine period.

“I have ordered our Tokyo Embassy to immediately repatriate our people in the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohoma Japan. It’s our duty to take care of our Overseas Filipinos wherever they are. I want them home now!” he said.

As of Wednesday, February 19, 41 Filipino crew members of the ship were found positive for COVID-19. Like other people on the ship confirmed to be infected with the virus, the Filipinos were brought to hospitals in Japan to undergo treatment.

The DFA earlier said there are 531 Filipino crew members and seven passengers aboard the quarantined cruise ship. Around 400 of them have expressed their desire to be repatriated to the Philippines.

The department said they have been coordinating with Japanese authorities and the operator of the vessel to ensure that everything would be smooth once the repatriation process begins.

DFA: Filipino workers can now return to Hong Kong, Macau despite coronavirus travel ban

Robie de Guzman   •   February 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos working in Macau and Hong Kong can now return to their jobs despite the travel ban being implemented on China and its territories due to the threat of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.

In a Twitter post, DFA Undersecretary Brigido “Dodo” Dulay announced that Filipino migrants returning for work in Hong Kong and Macau have been exempted from the outbound travel ban.

However, Dulay said they will be subjected to “certain procedural formalities.”

“OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) returning for work in Hong Kong and Macau have been exempted from the outbound travel ban by the IATF-EID (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) subject to certain procedural formalities,” he said.

Hundreds of Filipino workers bound for Hong Kong and Macau were left stranded in the Philippines after President Rodrigo Duterte on February 2 imposed travel restrictions on China and its territories hit with the deadly virus.

Stranded migrant workers were offered P10,000 cash assistance, and provided with dormitories and food while they await the lifting of the travel ban.

Groups of OFWs have earlier appealed to the government to let them return to China and its territories in fear of losing their jobs.

DFA chief signs VFA termination notice

Maris Federez   •   February 11, 2020

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday (Feb. 11) signed the termination notice for the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States.

Locsin said the notice, which will take effect after 180 days, was already sent to the US Embassy and was received by the deputy chief of mission.

“The Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the United States has received the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement. As a diplomatic courtesy, there will be no further factual announcements following this self-explanatory development,” the DFA chief said.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay confirmed that Locsin has signed the termination notice upon the directive of the president.

“On the order of the President [Rodrigo Duterte] thru Executive Secretary [Salvador] Medialdea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin signed today the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which will [be] delivered to the US Embassy in Manila forthwith,” Dulay said.

The DFA move comes barely a week after Locsin said in his opening remarks at a Senate hearing that abrogating the VFA might have a negative impact on the relationship between the country and the US, pointing out that a vigorous review of the military agreement is called for.

On January 23, President Rodrigo Duterte issued an ultimatum to the US government to rectify the visa cancellation of his long time ally Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa within 30 days or he would abrogate the two-decade-old military accord. — /mbmf

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