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21 Feb, 12 tweets, 5 min read
President #Duterte decision on VFA hinges on Filipinos’ welfare

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will decide on the fate of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the national interest and welfare of #Filipinos in mind.
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said whatever decision the President will come up with should be respected.

The VFA with the United States is a deal to allow the presence of military forces in the #Philippines for military exercises with local troops and humanitarian missions.
An important clause states that US military courts will have jurisdiction over crimes committed by its members as long as they are part of official duties.

Go said President #Duterte, as chief architect of foreign policy, has the prerogative to make decisions for the country.
“I will respect the decision of the President. The #Philippines is a sovereign country. We belong to an independent country,” Go said during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Northeastern Misamis General Hospital in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.
Go also assured that President #Duterte is only concerned about the welfare of all #Filipinos.

“Whatever decision he makes, it will be for the best interest of Filipinos,” explained Go. “For the President and I, we will not let Filipinos be taken advantage of.”
The President earlier demanded compensation from the US government if it wanted to keep the VFA. He ordered in February last year the abrogation of the 1998 agreement but suspended it due to the pandemic and “heightened superpower tensions.”
The US welcomed the suspension, saying “the US-Philippines alliance remains vital to our robust, deep-rooted bilateral relationship. The United States will continue to partner closely with the #Philippines to strengthen our mutual security ties.”
Armed Forces of the #Philippines (AFP) chief, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, said they respect the wisdom of their commander-in-chief.

“I am a soldier, a good follower. The President is the commander-in-chief and I respect his wisdom,” Sobejana said.
Sobejana added the Philippine military should be able to stand alone and not become dependent on other countries.

“As an organization, as the AFP, we should be able to stand alone. If we are so dependent on other countries, we can’t be on top of the situation always,” he said.
Go believes the termination of the VFA “is a chance for us to write a new and better chapter in Philippines–United States relations. We should now be able to renew our friendship, reaffirm our ties and resume cooperation as true co-equals.”
As for his colleagues who oppose the President’s decision, Go said all senators have the right to issue opinions but they are all committed to supporting the legislative agenda.
“We are a separate branch of government and it is the right of each senator to express their views. After all, we are a working democracy,” Go said.

(c) PR/Presidential Photos

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22 Feb
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