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Bato’s cancelled US Visa to cost VFA

Francis Wakefield

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Duterte: Bato's Visa or VFA (RTVM)

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday gave the United State one month to correct the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s U.S. Visa or else he will scrap Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

“Si Bato di nila patuon sa Amerika that, I’m warning you, this is the first time, pag hindi ninyo ginawa ang correction diyan, One I will terminate the Bases Visiting Forces Agreement, tapusin ko ‘yang p…..ina na. I’m giving notice, and they begin to count,” the President warned in a speech he delivered after distributing benefits to former rebels in a ceremony at the San Isidro Civic Center in San Isidro, Leyte.

“I’m giving government and the American government one month from now, mag istorya me pahawaon nako sila sa ilang VFA,” he added.

Dela Rosa said he was hurt by the revocation of his travel access to the US as he helped his American counterparts in law enforcement during his time as a policeman.

“I sent an official letter to the US Embassy inquiring from them if really my visa was canceled. So I received their official answer the day before my birthday, January 20… informing that my visa is no longer valid for travel to the United States,” he said.

The neophyte senator, who was the chief architect of Philippine National Police’s (PNP) anti-drug operations “Oplan Tokhang”, said the letter indicated that if he wanted to apply for a new visa, he has to go through the same process again and it will be subject to US laws as well as its rules and regulations.

The former PNP chief also said there was no reason for the cancellation indicated in the letter. When asked if the cancellation may be linked to the alleged extra-judicial killings in the country, he answered: “most likely.”

American senators had passed a resolution that allows US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to impose sanctions on Filipino officials involved in the detention of opposition Senator Leila de Lima.

The sanction is in compliance with the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act which authorizes the US government to punish human rights offenders. The sanctions include the freezing of a sanctioned official’s assets or a ban from entering the United States.

Another US Senate resolution also called for the ban of De Lima’s jailers and alleged human rights offenders based on the Magnitsky Act.

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