After Ronald Dela Rosa received a reply from the embassy that his visa for the United States is no longer valid, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte threatened the US to cancel the country’s deal with the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). Dela Rosa said that the cancellation of his visa might be related to his alleged human rights violation through his supposed involvement in the Extra Judicial Killings (EJK) in the country under Duterte’s “War on Drugs” campaign. However, the US embassy did not state a reason for the cancellation.
“If you don’t issue a correction, I will terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement. I am giving notice and they begin to count. I am giving government and the American government one month from now.” Duterte stated in a speech on Thursday.
The VFA is part of the broad military agreements between the Philippines and the United States in 1999. This agreement also includes the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty. These deals aim to defend each other, the US and the Philippines, in case of an attack on their territory.
Explaining about the ultimatum by Duterte, Dela Rosa justified the president’s threat by saying:
“I don’t deserve this bargain but it is not all about me. It is about a one sided foreign relations. Their soldiers can freely enter the country while a senator of this republic is barred from entering their territory due to their intentions of tinkering with our domestic affairs. He (Duterte) is a leader who doesn’t want his people treated unfairly.”
Meanwhile, commenting on the issue, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on a text message to a reporter:
“Visa is a conditional authorization given by a country to visiting foreigners which may be granted, cancelled, and even denied. The VFA is a bilateral agreement between the Philippines and the US that went through some back and forth discussions prior to Senate ratification but not without intense plenary deliberation. It is therefore difficult to understand the connection between the two.”
In December of 2016, Duterte also threatened the US to prepare for the cancellation of an agreement on the “deployment of troops and equipment for exercises” due to his disappointment on the Millennium Challenge Corporation or the MCC’s decision to allow the re-selection of Manila for compact development due to human rights issues.
“The politics here in Southeast Asia is changing. We do not need America’s money. China said they will provide so many. I will serve notice to you now that this will be the last military exercises.” Duterte stated, referring to the October 2016 scheduled US-Philippines military exercises.
- Featured Photo: https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/us-philippines-defense-alliance