Duterte rejects Trump’s invite; threatens scrapping VFA

Duterte rejects Trump’s invite; threatens scrapping VFA

The invitation was give, and now it has been rejected.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has rejected the US President Donald Trump invitation to attend the Southeast Asian leaders’ summit in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 4,

The President was prompted by the cancellation of the US Visa of known Duterte ally senator Ronald Dela Rosa.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
(photo credit to owner)

“What he said is he’s not going,” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo 
“(The President rejected the invitation due to) many reasons which I’ve already stated earlier and the other reason was the cancellation of Senator Bato’s visa. That added to the other factors,” he added.
Panelo said the Chief Executive would not allow American lawmakers to “bully” the Philippine government.

“Syempre ayaw niya (Of course, he doesn’t want it). For one, as we said earlier, the demand of the US senators to release Ms. de Lima is an intrusion into our sovereign rights as a state because they cannot dictate on us or bully us into releasing a citizen of this country who is lawfully detained,” he said.
Opoosition senator Leila De Lima has been detained in the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center since February 2017, on alleged role in the illegal drug trade inside the Bilibid National Penitentiary.

Scrapping of VFA

The Presidential Spokesperson said President Duterte has ordered the “Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) committee” to “start the process of terminating” the pact between US and Philippine troops.

“Tinanong ko siya kagabi (I asked the President last night), ‘When will the process start?’ (He said), ‘Tonight,’” he said.
“I will leave it to Secretary Locsin. The process of starting (revocation of VFA) it has commenced,” the Palace official added.
In his speech in San Isidro, Leyte, the President gave notice publicly that he would terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“Unya karon si Bato di nila paadtuon sa America. (Now they won’t let Bato go to America) That’s… I’m warning you. This is the first time. ‘Pag hindi ninyo ginawa ang correction diyan (If you do not make any correction), one, I will terminate the Bases Visiting Forces Agreement,” he said.

“I’m giving notice and they begin to count. I’m giving government and the American government one month from now, mag-istorya mi, pahawaon nako sila sa ilang Visiting Forces Agreement (for us to talk. I will terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement),” Duterte added.
VFA was signed in 1998, under the agreement US forces are not subject to passport and visa regulations when entering and leaving the Philippines. Their permits and licenses are also deemed valid in the Philippines, the US also has jurisdiction over its military personnel when they commit crimes in the Philippines, unless these are punishable in Manila.

The Visiting Forces Agreement can be terminated by writing to the other party about their desire to scrap the deal. 

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Report from  PNA

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