SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and other concerned agencies are preparing for the possible termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States after President Rodrigo Duterte gave his stand on the issue last week.
President Duterte said that if the US State Department does not explain its recent cancellation of the US visas of certain Philippine officials, particularly Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, the President will move to terminate the VFA.
“Ipaglalaban ko ang karapatan ng mga Pilipino. Huwag kayong makialam sa judicial process namin. Alamin niyo muna ang katotohanan bago makialam dito,” Go said.
Go stressed that the Duterte administration is simply protecting the interests of Filipinos. He urged US officials to know the truth and not interfere with the country’s domestic affairs.
“You have a problem right now,” Go told reporters addressing the US legislators who voted for a Senate resolution banning entry into US of Philippine government officials purportedly involved in alleged extrajudicial killings and the detention of Senator Leila de Lima.
“Alam niyo naman si Pangulong Duterte, hindi naman nangunguna iyan eh, subalit ‘yung atake niyo po kay Senator Bato ay atake na rin po sa pamahalaan,” Go said.
The senator emphasized that the US owes the public an explanation for its actions. He stressed that those US officials may have been misinformed regarding the drug charges pressed against de Lima whose detention is in accordance with the law as upheld by the Philippine Supreme Court.
“Kung ano man po ang naging rason ninyo sa pagkansela ng visa ni Senator Bato, you should explain it to the public. I-explain niyo muna bakit niyo kinansela. Kung sabihin niyo na dahil dito sa kay Sen. De lima, now you have a problem. Malaki ang problema ninyo,” Go said.
Go told reporters that the administration is already preparing for the possibility of terminating the VFA, a pact that allows American troops to visit the country and conduct joint training with Filipino troops.
“Inumpisahan na po ang proseso sa pagkansela. Hintayin na lang po natin ang ating Executive Secretary (and) the Office of the President at ang (Secretary) of Foreign Affairs, Secretary Locsin,” Go shared.
The senator also shared that he has not yet been informed if his own visa was cancelled too. He said that his US visa will expire in 2021.
“Di na rin ako nagtanong at wala rin akong balak tanungin kung kinansela nila. Eh, kung kinansela nila, manonood na lang ako ng NBA finals sa TV,” the senator said in jest.
The senator hopes that de Lima would answer the allegations thrown at her and let the judicial process take its course so that the public will not be misinformed.
“Alam niyo, lalong tumatagal, lalong maraming sumasakay. Sinasakyan po ng mga senators ng United States na di naman nila alam na it was upheld by the Supreme Court at alam naman natin na mayroong prosecution,” Go said.
“Hindi po style ng ating mahal na Pangulo na gumanti. Wala pong dahilan. Sagutin na lang po (ni de Lima) ang ating judicial process na ginagawa sa kanya sa ngayon,” the senator added.