By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The government should focus on addressing the needs of the families displaced by the Taal Volcano eruption, as well as the threat of the novel coronavirus to the country, instead of dwelling on the cancellation of Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s travel visa.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said this on Friday after President Duterte threatened to terminate the country’s visiting forces agreement (VFA) with the United States after it canceled Dela Rosa’s multiple entry visa in what they believed was part of the U.S.’ sanctions on Philippine government officials involved in the administration’s controversial war on drugs.
Duterte said he would scrap the VFA if the U.S. fails to reverse the visa cancellation within one month.
“It would be better for Malacañang to focus on the welfare and suffering of millions of our countrymen affected by the Taal Volcano eruption and the threat of the coronavirus outbreak than the cancellation of one U.S. visa,” Pangilinan said in a text message.
In a separate message, the opposition senator surmised that Duterte would be terminating the Philippines-U.S. VFA to further strengthen his alliance with China.
“Pabor sa China ang pagterminate ng VFA kaya hindi na kataka-taka ito (China is in favor of terminating the VFA so this is not strange),” Pangilinan said.
Senators agreed that President Duterte can terminate the VFA without the approval of the Senate.
While it requires the Senate’s concurrence before treaties are enforced, the Constitution is silent on whether or not the Upper Chamber’s consent is needed for the termination of treaties.
The 1998 VFA states that either the Philippines or the U.S. can terminate the deal.