The President is justified in terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States of America as he dictates the country’s foreign policy, according to Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
“Kung naaayon naman sa batas na pwede naman niyang (Duterte) diretsong i-terminate with valid reason as chief executive and as President of the Philippines ay rerespetuhin ko po ito,” Go said Saturday during a radio interview on DWIZ 882’s “Usapang Senado.”
“The President, after all, is the chief architect of our foreign policy,” he added.
On 7 February, the President ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to send to the United States the official notice of termination of the VFA. The President brought up this issue after the US cancelled the visa of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa without citing a reason.
Go said if the termination of the VFA needs to be reviewed in the Senate, he and his colleagues will discuss it.
Three senators filed a resolution on 3 February appealing to the President to reconsider his decision until after the Senate has finished “conducting a review and impact assessment” of the termination of the VFA.
Go said he respects the move of Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Franklin Drilon to file the resolution.
“Separate branch of government naman po kami, at karapatan po ng bawat senador to express our views, their views. ‘Yung resolution naman po ay isang suggestion… baka magbago pa ang isip ng ating mahal na Pangulo,” Go said.
Asked if he would vote for the resolution, Go answered, “Susunod po ako kung ano ‘yung batas. Kung naaayon naman sa ating batas na pwedeng i-terminate ng Presidente ang VFA at kung di na po kailangan ng concurrence ng Congress ay respetuhin dapat po ‘yun.”
But Go said he also welcomes a reconsideration by the President of his decision.
“Ang importante po rito ay mapaintindi po sa bansang Amerika na huwag po kayong manghimasok,” he explained.
Pundits have linked the cancellation of Dela Rosa’s US visa to US Senate Resolution No. 142 passed on 9 January. The measure gives the US executive branch the power to impose visa and travel restrictions on alleged human rights violators anywhere in the world.
“’Yung mga ginawa ng mga senador doon ay talaga pong nakikialam sila sa ating judicial process. This is an internal domestic process of a sovereign democracy,” Go said.
The senator further said that “as fellow allied democracies, this process must be recognized as part of the rule of law.”
“By that act, wala silang respeto. Meron silang pagdududa. Alam niyo naman po ‘yung nangyari kay Senator Leila de Lima ay prosecution ‘yun. It was upheld by the Supreme Court at may kaso po iyon na ongoing sa korte,” Go said.
“’Di muna nila inalam. Pumunta sana sila rito at inalam muna nila ‘yung facts…Hindi po ugali ni Pangulong Duterte na gantihan (ang mga kumakalaban sa kanya) sa politika,” he said.
“Insulto po ‘yung ginawa nila dahil po sa trabaho lang na ginawa ni (senator) Bato during his time as PNP (Philippine National Police) chief. Kung ‘yun man po ang naging dahilan ay atake po ‘yun sa ating gobyerno, sa ating kampanya (laban sa iligal na droga). Kung ‘yung kay Senator de Lima naman po ang naging dahilan eh panibagong atake rin po ‘yun sa ating judicial system at sovereignty. Huwag ho kayong manghimasok. Just mind your own business,” he said.
Meanwhile, Go said Philippine Ambassador to the U.S., Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez will report to the president the possible implications of the VFA termination.