No new directive on VFA termination despite fixing of Bato’s visa to US

Philippine Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa | photo by Geremy Pintolo

Malacañang on Thursday, July 9, said the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States remains suspended and is not lifted.

“Hindi pa po nagbabago ‘yung huling binitawang salita ni presidente na ipagpapaliban po ng six months yung pagte-terminate sa VFA at ito pong pagpapaliban ay extendable by another six months. ‘Yan pa rin po ang posisyon (The president’s recent directive about the VFA termination for six months remains the same and this postponement is extendable by another six months. That’s still the position),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.

This announcement came after Senator Ronald Dela Rosa revealed that the U.S. Embassy in Manila had called him to fix his canceled visa. the development came after President Rodrigo Duterte’s phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump in April.

Malacañang welcomed the U.S.’ move to rectify Dela Rosa’s visa cancellation.

“Ang posisyon naman po ng Pilipinas, insulto ang nangyari na hindi binigyan ng visa ang isang halal na senador ng bayan (The Philippines’ position is that it is an insult that a senator has not been granted a visa),” he said.

“So nagagalak naman po kami na nalinawan ang mga Amerikano na hindi ganyan ang pagtrato sa mga halal ng taumbayan na mga Pilipinong opisyal (We are happy that the Americans realized that they should not treat duly elected Philippine officials that way),” the spokesman added.

Dela Rosa, on July 8, said he received a call from the U.S. Embassy informing him that he can process his U.S. visa.

“We can only surmise that I might have been a beneficiary in the changes in foreign policy. The President did not say that the VFA will be honored again if I could have my visa back. But he said he was mad at the visa revocation. It might be because of the changes in the situation in the West Philippine Sea, relationship with China and other factors that were considered in President Trump and President Duterte’s talk,” he added.

On June 2, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced that the Philippines has suspended the termination of its Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States in light of political and other developments in the region.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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