MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte can terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States (US) even without the concurrence of the Senate, Malacañang said on Friday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after the president threatened to scrap the VFA if the US government does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.
“Because it (VFA) is an executive agreement so he can cancel it without the approval of the Senate,” Panelo said.
Dela Rosa on Wednesday confirmed to media that he is not allowed to travel to the US for now after he received notification about his visa cancellation.
The senator said the exact reason on why his US visa was cancelled remains unclear but he heard reports it might be linked to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs that he spearheaded when he was the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) from 2016 to 2018.
The VFA, signed by Manila and Washington in 1998, is a bilateral deal which outlines the guidelines for the conduct of government troops when they are visiting the US or the Philippines.
Panelo said the US government should not intervene with the Philippines’ internal issues.
The Palace official also believes the president’s threat to cancel the VFA will not affect Filipino workers in the US. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
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