Diplomatic, statesman-like approach to VFA issue pressed
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday said it would be better for the government to use “diplomatic and statesmanlike” talks in dealing with the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.
“The President may have used strong words to send his message across to the US. But certainly, there is a more civil and statesmanlike manner to ask for compensation from a longtime ally using the usual diplomatic channels and still get the same desired results,” Lacson, who heads the Senate Committee on National Defense, said in a statement.
He was reacting to President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark that the US must “pay” to maintain the VFA.
Lacson explained that Duterte only wanted to have a “fair shake of the agreement” but stressed that the chief executive could have done a more diplomatic approach regarding the agreement.
“It was in that context that I posted a tweet on the matter on Saturday. I decided to take it down after giving it a thought that the President’s intention was to get a fair shake of the agreement, only he could have said it in a more diplomatic way. On crucial issues such as this, there should be no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding moving forward,” he said.
In a tweet on Saturday, which he already deleted, Lacson told the US government that not all Filipinos are extortionists in the wake of Duterte’s strong remarks.
In a public event on Friday, Duterte said if the US wants the agreement done, they have to pay because “share of responsibility does not come free.”
“I’d like to put on notice if there’s an American agent here. From now on, you want the Visiting Forces Agreement done, you have to pay. It’s a shared responsibility but your share of responsibility does not come free because, after all, when the war breaks out, we all pay,” Duterte stressed.
In December, Duterte threatened to discontinue the VFA if the US fails to supply Covid-19 vaccines to the Philippines.
American drugmaker Pfizer already received its emergency use authorization from Philippine Food and Drug Administration.
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