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Duterte threat vs. US over visa is about lopsided foreign ties –Dela Rosa

Senator Ronald dela Rosa said Friday that he does not deserve the bargain made by President Rodrigo Duterte for the restoration of his US visa, but he insisted that the matter is not all about him, as it is about a "lopsided foreign relations."

“I don’t deserve this bargain but it is not all about me. It is about a one-sided foreign relations,” Dela Rosa said in a statement, also pointing out that Duterte is a “leader who doesn’t want his people treated unfairly.”

“Ok lang mga sundalo nila labas-masok sa ating teritoryo while a senator of this republic is barred from entering their territory due to their intentions of tinkering with our domestic affairs,” he added.

The President threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States if the US does not correct the matter involving Dela Rosa’s visa within a month.

Although the US Embassy did not say the reason for the cancellation of Dela Rosa’s visa, the latter believes it is connected with the extrajudicial killings while he is implementing the government’s war on drugs while being the Philippine National Police chief.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed belief that with Duterte’s threat, the US government will not rethink its actions against the Philippines.

“Perhaps this action can make the US Senate rethink their wrong perception about our Justice System. He is the President, the buck stops with him,” he said.

Unfortunate, unnecessary

But for Senator Panfilo Lacson, the President’s threat is unfortunate and unnecessary as there is no connection between Dela Rosa’s visa and the VFA.

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

Meanwhile, 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.

“It is, therefore, difficult to understand the connection between the two,” he said.

'Do so for the right reason'

On the other hand, House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate dared Duterte to make good his threat to terminate VFA, as well as the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT)  and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

However, the President should do it to assert the Philippine's sovereignty and not to avenge Dela Rosa.

"President Duterte should just terminate these agreements because they are onerous and violative of our national sovereignty. They are vestiges of neo-colonial control of the US, a tool for direct intervention in the country, facilitating for instance the return of their basing facilities, interference in the counterinsurgency operations,” he said.

The lawmaker said Duterte should do it for the right reasons and not out of pique or just to use it as a leverage tool or bargaining chip for personal gains or out of spite.

"By abrogating these onerous treaties we can assert our sovereignty against US interests and the government's action would not seem to be just a petty threat to an imagined slight of its official,” said Zarate. —LBG, GMA news