De Lima calls Duterte’s threat to scrap VFA an irrational move

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has bewailed Mr. Duterte’s threat to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States, calling it an “irrational move.”

De Lima, a former justice secretary, maintained that the termination of the 1999 military pact allowing Filipino and American soldiers to hold joint drills in the Philippines may only benefit foreign interests other than the interests of the Filipino people.

“Decisions on matters of national interest should not be based on one man’s pursuit of personal grudge, his bruised ego, or his attempts to look tough when, in truth, he has failed to fulfill his campaign promises and has been, for the last three years making up excuses and crises to cover up his failures,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 708.

 “To be clear: canceling the VFA is not the best move for the Filipino people and Philippine interests. It can only be good for certain foreign interests,” she added.

Mr. Duterte renewed his threats to terminate the Philippines’ VFA with the United States following the US’ decision to cancel the visa of Sen. Ronald de la Rosa, who implemented the government’s anti-narcotics campaign as then national police chief.  

Duterte, who gave US a month to reverse the visa cancellation of De la Rosa, drew flaks from several political pundits who slammed his readiness to drop a bilateral defense agreement because of a personal issue.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo claimed that Duterte’s decision is also a result of US actions that supposedly violated Philippine sovereignty, citing, among others, the demand of US senators to free De Lima and the US entry ban against Filipino officials linked to De Lima’s wrongful imprisonment.

“The issue about my continued persecution is a matter of fact. Not just the US, but also the United Nations, has looked into my case and has found it so. This is not a matter of naivete on their part, but of utter failure on Duterte’s part,” De Lima noted.

According to her, Duterte’s threat reminded her of how the Chinese government acted in the early days of the Wuhan outbreak in which it punished the health workers and journalists who were attempting to warn the public about the spreading disease instead of addressing the growing problem.

“That irrational move not only failed to solve the problem, it made it so, so much worse.  A clear example of how irrational tyranny poses a danger to everyone around them,” she pointed out.

“Duterte, instead of addressing the issues of human rights abuses, extrajudicial killings, weaponization of the rule of law, and the surrender of Philippine sovereignty to his foreign overlords, is wasting precious time and resources by lashing out against innocent people…” she added.

It is not the first time that Duterte had threatened to scrap the VFA. In December 2016, he also threatened to terminate the joint military pact after the US did not renew an aid package for the Philippines. (30)

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