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Duterte refuses to change stance on VFA

/ 11:24 PM March 09, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night insisted that his stance on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) would not change even as some senators asked the Supreme Court to compel him to seek Senate concurrence in terminating the key military pact with the United States.

“They cannot compel me. I refused to be compelled. I have terminated it. Tapos ang problema ko. Wala na kong problema diyan. As far as I’m concern we’re beginning to count the 180 days for them to pack up and go. I am not reneging on the VFA and I’m not going to America to discuss it with anybody,” Duterte told reporters in a press briefing in Malacañang.

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In its petition for declaratory relief and mandamus, the Senate called on the high court to order the Office of the Executive Secretary to refer the notice of withdrawal from the VFA to the upper chamber for its concurrence.

READ: SC urged: Affirm Senate role in ending treaties

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Declaratory relief is an action to determine any question in the validity arising from an instrument, executive order, regulation or statute, among others while mandamus means to compel the other party to perform a particular act.

Duterte unilaterally terminated the VFA after the US canceled the visa of Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who once served as his police chief and oversaw his bloody war on drugs from 2016 to 2018.

READ: SC urged: Affirm Senate role in ending treaties

As stipulated in the 1998 military pact, the expiration of the VFA will come 180 days from the receipt of the formal notice of termination from either country.

According to Malacañang, Dela Rosa’s visa cancellation is the “last straw that broke the camel’s back,” pointing out other instances the US government supposedly interfere in the Philippines’ affairs and sovereignty.

The President, however, said that he had high respect for US President Donald Trump

He also urged Filipino voters in the United States to vote for Trump, re-election in the 2020 US presidential elections.

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“I’m telling the Filipino now: You’re getting the best deal with Trump,” Duterte said.

“To the Filipinos … bumoto kayo kay Trump. And they say that I am interfering. Of course, I am interfering. tell that to the Americans, that Duterte is insisting in interfering,” he added.

Duterte earlier said Trump deserved to be reelected over his comments on the VFA termination.

Trump has said that he did not mind Duterte’s decision to end the VFA even as US Defense Secretary Mark Esper called it “unfortunate” and a move in the “wrong direction.”

/atm

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TAGS: Defense, defense agreement, Donald Trump, Malacañang, Rodrigo Duterte, US, VFA, Visiting Forces Agreement
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