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Pimentel: Duterte has prerogative to terminate VFA with US

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Senator Koko Pimentel on Friday said President Rodrigo Duterte may cancel the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the United States “with or without a reason.”

Pimentel made the remark when asked to comment on the President’s threat to abrogate the Philippine-US VFA if the US government will not grant visa to Senator Bato dela Rosa.

Dela Rosa had confirmed that his US visa – which was supposed to lapse in 2022 – had been revoked. He implemented Duterte’s war on drugs when he was still Philippine National Police (PNP) chief.

Pimentel, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that Duterte “can even say that times have changed and it is no longer needed by the country (Philippines).”

“Terminating the VFA can be done by the President as the chief implementor of Philippine foreign policy and secondarily as the commander- in-chief of the armed forces,” he said.

“The reason stated by the president for terminating the PH-US VFA may sound ‘personal’ but I see the point of the President,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said Duterte “believes Senator Bato is being punished by the US for having once been the implementor of his main program of government – the all out war against drugs.”

“Since that is domestic policy then punishing someone – even if indirectly – for a domestic policy shows the intent to interfere by a foreign state with Philippine domestic policy,” he added.

The senator from Cagayan de Oro City said that that VFA “should always be subject to review.”

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