THE threat of President Rodrigo Duterte to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States will remain a “white noise” if the Commander-in-Chief fails to instruct his subordinates to make the necessary steps to revoke it.
Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II stressed this point after the President reiterated his threat to revoke the VFA in reaction to the reported plan of the US to defer the implementation of its multi-year aid package to the Philippines amid the unabated extrajudicial killings (EJKs) of suspected drug dealers and drug users.
The American Millennium Challenge Corporation has yet to decide whether to continue giving aid to the Philippines, after an initial five-year package worth $430 million expired last May.
Asked whether the President can terminate the VFA on his own, Honasan, chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, said: “Hindi.”
“The question is tatanungin ko ngayon si (Defense) Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana next hearing namin, may instruction na ba na paalisin na ‘yung mga Amerikano. Kung wala, that’s white noise,” said Honasan.
“Gusto kong malaman kung ‘yung sinabi n’ya (President Duterte) na-i translate sa utos sa ibaba. Iyun lang ang important sa akin,” he said.
He added: “The President is the chief prosecutor of our foreign, economic and security policy. As long as it does not violate the Constitution and it serves our highest national interest.”
“He exercises certain prerogatives, judgment calls and makes decisions based on complete, timely and accurate information that should come from all possible sources, private and public sector, foreign and domestic sources para ‘yung decision n’ya related mostly to policy will be intelligent, informed and rational,” he said.