MANILA, Feb 11, 2020, The Manila Times. Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said he supports and respects the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, The Manila Times reported.
“I will respect whatever decision our beloved President makes. As a senator, if it is in the law that this has to pass the Senate, we will discuss it,” Go bared.
“However, if it is in the law that the President, with valid reason, may directly terminate [the VFA], I will respect it,” he added.
On February 7, the President ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to send to the US the official notice of the VFA’s termination.
The President ordered the pact’s termination after the US canceled the visa of Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
A number of senators filed a resolution on February 3 appealing to the President to withhold his decision until after the Senate has finished “conducting a review and impact assessment” of the termination of the VFA.
Go said he respected the move by Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Franklin Drilon.
The Senate “is a separate branch of government and senators have the right to express their views. The resolution is a suggestion…our beloved President might change his mind,” he added.
Asked if he would vote for the resolution, Go answered: “I will respect and follow what is in the law whether the President can terminate VFA with or without the concurrence of Congress.”
He added that he would also welcome if the President reconsiders his position.
“What is important here is to let America understand that it should not interfere,” the senator said.
The US has not given any explanation so far on its decision to cancel dela Rosa’s visa, but many believe it is related to US Senate Resolution 142.
Passed on January 9, the measure gives the US executive branch the power to impose visa and travel restrictions on alleged human rights violators anywhere in the world.
Go bared that the details of the termination of the VFA are still being discussed.
“The position of the Palace is that the President can unilaterally terminate the VFA, so we will wait. I’m sure that by next week, Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez, our ambassador to America, will report to President Duterte on his meetings with US authorities and on the possible implications [of the VFA termination],” he said.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo told the media on February 7 that Duterte instructed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to ask the DFA to send the US an official notice to end the VFA.