RP Top Diplomat told officials to “stop whining about the VFA”

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After warning a Senate Foreign Affairs committee hearing about the possible serious implications a scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) on United States-Philippine relations, Foreign affairs secretary Teddyboy Locsin did what he was instructed to, and sent a letter abrogating the military pact thru the US embassy in Manila last February 11. Locsin has just proven his loyalty to Mr. Duterte.

Philippine president Rodrigo Roa Duterte became the first ever Filipino president to stand up against the Americans, says Walden Bello, co-convenor of Laban ng Masa. For his tough stance against the VFA, he should be praised, says Bello referring to Duterte.

Bello’s praise never went pass the Inquirer. Civil society members particularly those working in the media profession were so absorbed with the ABS-CBN franchise issue that they forgot to even acknowledge or even read Bello’s statement, the academic’s first after disappearing from the public scene for months. (Bello’s Thai wife died).

Bello must have been sleeping like Twinkly Doo all these time or he purposely did not mention the fact that Duterte never decided about scrapping the VFA based on the recommendation of foreign and defense policy experts, no. The scrapping of the VFA was never about protecting the sovereignty of this country or about standing up against major powers.

It was a highly personal knee-jerk reaction by the President after news cropped up about the US government’s decision to cancel the US VISA of Senator Bato dela Rosa for his active role in the bloody anti-drugs campaign while the country’s PNP chief. Duterte got angry when he got the news.

For Duterte, what the US did was plain and simply Bastos, says his spokesperson Sal Panelo. So being the country’s main man in terms of foreign relations, Duterte went on stage again, used the pulprit to lambast America and thereafter, directed his men to write a letter saying that the Philippine government intends to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA.

Quid pro quo–that’s what Duterte did. And some people laud him for this. No research to support a decision to abrogate an agreement which many US and Filipino policy experts spent many countless hours trying to perfect yet, in just one swig of Fentanyl, no more.

Agree with Locsin–why fret and why whine? It is time for us to spend for our own defense, as if we are not doing it for decades already. Protecting one’s sovereignty is paramount and deserves nothing more than a commitment to invest in one’s own defense.

Agree, says another septu, Sal Panelo, who has to back up his boss despite his legal mind saying no.

Having a military cooperation pact does not impinge on one’s sovereign rights or does not even affect any muscle of the state apparatus. Such pacts as the VFA, is simply natural under a highly chaotic and anarchic international system. Major powers, such as Japan, the UN, Australia and even Western powers maintain military cooperation pacts simply on the basis of logic. No modern state can stop another’s threats using one’s military assets alone. States normally gravitate towards cooperative endeavors simply because it just maintains a level of equilibrium among states. When major powers with strategic interests in a state learns of this state’s strong cooperative ties with a similarly big and powerful one, such a state lowers his threats. A balance of power then ensues to the benefit of the many.

Nice to listen to these gentleman’s arguments and expressions of national pride. Sometimes however, we have to be pragmatic and admit to ourselves that we are still developing our capabilities and separating ourselves from the rest of humanity might not be a bright idea.

 

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