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Duterte threatens to end VFA if US doesn’t restore Bato’s visa

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the United States after the US canceled the visa of Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa.

In a speech in San Isidro, Leyte, Duterte said he would do away with the VFA if the US does not correct the matter involving Dela Rosa’s visa.

Dela Rosa, the former chief implementer of Duterte's war on drugs, has said the US did not state the reason for the revocation of his visa.

“Si Bato, ayaw nila papuntahin sa Amerika. I am warning you, this is the first time. ‘Pag hindi ninyo ginawa ang correction diyan, one, I will terminate the bases, the Visiting Forces Agreement. Tapusin ko 'yang p— ina,” Duterte said in a mix of Cebuano, English and Filipino.

“I am giving notice and they begin to count, I am giving the government and the American government, one month from now mag-uusap kami, paalisin ko sila sa Visiting Forces Agreement," he added.

Duterte also warned that he would bar from setting foot on Philippine soil other American senators who voted in favor of the US entry ban against Filipino officials linked to Senator Leila De Lima’s arrest.

US senators Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy and Edward Markey had already been banned by Duterte from visiting the Philippines which came after the US Congress approved a 2020 budget that contains a provision introduced by the senators against anyone involved in De Lima’s incarceration.

Duterte claimed the American legislators refused to believe allegations that De Lima relied on drug money to aid her senatorial campaign in 2016.

“Ayaw nila maniwala na kriminal si De Lima. Nangongolekta siya ng pera para sa eleksyon. Gusto niya tumakbong senador at nag-ambisyon din na maging presidente,” he said in Cebuano.

The Philippines and the US are treaty allies, having signed the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty that obliges American troops to help defend the Philippines if it comes under attack.

An attack against Philippine armed forces, public vessels or aircraft falls under its obligations in the treaty.

The US and the Philippines also inked the VFA and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which allows greater US troops’ access to Philippine bases and presence in the country. —NB, GMA News