By Raymund Antonio
Government officials should be careful with their public statements that may confuse the public, especially when addressing important policy issues, Vice President Leni Robredo said.
Robredo noted the contradicting remarks of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo regarding the termination of the United States-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“Hindi natin alam kung ano iyong totoo kasi sabi ng government agency na ganito, ganito iyong totoo; sabi noong isa, kabaliktaran,” she said over local radion station dzXL. (We don’t what the truth is because a government agency said this is true, another said the opposite.)
“Dapat kapag government agency, hindi na gagawa ng any public statement na hindi niya siniguro na totoo. Pero paminsan, ganoon iyong nangyayari,” Robredo added. (A government agency should not make any public statement that they did not first make sure to be true. But sometimes that happens.)
The vice president advised government officials that they should discuss the matter first before making any public statement because this will be taken by Filipinos with “presumption of truth and regularity.”
On Friday, Panelo said President Duterte, through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, ordered Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to formally notify the U.S of the country’s move to scrap the VFA. But the next day, Lorenzana called this “fake news,” saying Locsin has not been given the order yet.
Robredo, a leader of the opposition, said she sees nothing wrong with the review of the VFA between the two countries.
“In fact, makakabuti iyon sa atin, kasi talagang dapat i-assess natin kung iyong mga agreements natin with foreign countries nakakabuti pa ba sa atin,” Robredo said. (In fact, that will be good for us because we should assess agreements with foreign countries to determine if they are still beneficial to us.)
“Pero sana, huwag padalos-dalos iyong pagbibitaw ng mga salita na later on, babawiin din natin,” she added. (But I hope statements will not be given in a rush, that we will take back later on.)