By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday expressed dismay over President Duterte’s decision to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, which she claimed was made on a whim at the expense of national security.
Robredo, a lawyer and leader of the opposition, said she was surprised the Philippines hastily sent its notice of termination of the VFA to the U.S government.
“Kasi iyong naiisip ko iyong pumutok iyong coronavirus. Iyong agarang pagdesisyon ng pamahalaan, kinakailangan para maproteksyunan iyong kalusugan ng mga mamamayan, pero naghintay pa ng ilang araw bago nagdesisyon,” she said in a media interview in Pili, Camarines Sur.
(I was thinking of the coronavirus outbreak. The urgent decision of the government was needed to protect public health, but they waited a few days before making a decision.)
“Hindi ko maintindihan kung ano iyong dahilan. Isang bagay na kailangang pag-aralan nang mabuti, isang bagay na kailangang pagdiskusyunan muna, bakit minamadali?” Robredo added.
(I don’t understand the reason for it. A matter that needs to be studied thoroughly, a matter that needs to be discussed first, why it was rushed?)
The vice president can’t help wonder if Duterte prioritized the interest of his close allies over the welfare of all Filipinos in his decision to scrap the U.S-Philippines defense pact.
“Minamadali ba dahil sa galit na hindi napagbigyan iyong mga kaalyado? Galit dahil sa may kinanselang visa?” she asked. “Hindi ito tama na iyong security ng ating bansa iyong nakataya.”
(Was it rushed out of anger that his allies were not indulged? Is he angry over the canceled visa? It’s not right that the security of our country was placed at risk.)
The President has been complaining against the U.S, lately about the cancellation of the U.S visa of Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, one of his close allies.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. signed the termination notice that was sent to the U.S upon the order of Duterte. This will take effect after 180 days.
Robredo questioned why the VFA should be terminated despite concerns raised by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), senators, and other government leaders.
“Parang sinantabi ‘yong pakikiusap ng AFP, ng Senate, ng iba pang mga opisyal ng pamahalaan. Nagdesisyon kaagad (It looks like the plea of the AFP, Senate, and other government officials was disregarded. He made a quick decision),” she said.