Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said on Saturday, February 8, that he supports and respects the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States of America.
“Nirerespeto ko po ang magiging desisyon ng ating mahal na Pangulo. Ako naman, bilang isang Senador, kung kailangan pong dumaan sa amin ayon sa batas ay aming tatalakayin po ito,” Go said during a radio interview on DWIZ 882’s “Usapang Senado.”
“Kung naaayon naman sa batas na pwede naman niyang diretsong i-terminate with valid reason as chief executive and as President of the Philippines ay rerespetuhin ko po ito,” the Senator added.
“The President, after all, is the chief architect of our foreign policy,” said Go.
On February 7, the President ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to send to the United States the official notice to terminate the VFA. The President brought up this issue after the US cancelled the visa of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
Some senators, meanwhile, filed a resolution on February 3 appealing to the President to reconsider his decision until after the Senate has finished “conducting a review and impact assessment” of the termination of the VFA.
Go said he respects the move by Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III with Senators Panfilo Lacson and Franklin Drilon. “Separate branch of government naman po kami, at karapatan po ng bawat senador to express our views, their views. ‘Yung resolution naman po ay isang suggestion… baka magbago pa ang isip ng ating mahal na Pangulo,” Go said.
Asked if he would vote for the resolution, Go answered, “Susunod po ako kung ano ‘yung batas. Kung naaayon naman sa ating batas na pwedeng i-terminate ng Presidente ang VFA at kung di na po kailangan ng concurrence ng Congress ay respetuhin dapat po ‘yun.”
He added that he will also welcome the decision if the President reconsiders the position. “Ang importante po rito ay mapaintindi po sa bansang Amerika na huwag po kayong manghimasok,” he explained.
The US has not given any explanation so far on its decision to cancel Senator dela Rosa’s visa, but many believe it is related to US Senate Resolution No. 142. Passed on January 9, the measure gives the US executive branch the power to impose visa and travel restrictions on alleged human rights violators anywhere in the world.
“’Yung mga ginawa ng mga senador doon ay talaga pong nakikialam sila sa ating judicial process. This is an internal domestic process of a sovereign democracy,” he said.
Go further said that “as fellow allied democracies, this process must be recognised as part of the rule of law.”
“By that act, wala silang respeto. Meron silang pagdududa. Alam niyo naman po ‘yung nangyari kay Senator Leila de Lima ay prosecution ‘yun. It was upheld by the Supreme Court at may kaso po iyon na ongoing sa korte,” Go said.
“’Di muna nila inalam. Pumunta sana sila rito at inalam muna nila ‘yung facts…Hindi po ugali ni Pangulong Duterte na gantihan (ang mga kumakalaban sa kanya) sa politika,” he added.
“Insulto po ‘yung ginawa nila dahil po sa trabaho lang na ginawa ni (senator) Bato during his time as PNP (Philippine National Police) chief. Kung ‘yun man po ang naging dahilan ay atake po ‘yun sa ating gobyerno, sa ating kampanya (laban sa iligal na droga). Kung ‘yung kay Senator de Lima naman po ang naging dahilan eh panibagong atake rin po ‘yun sa ating judicial system at sovereignty. Huwag ho kayong manghimasok. Just mind your own business,” Go also said.
The Senator said that the details of the termination of the VFA are still being discussed.
“Ang posisyon ng Palasyo is that the President can unilaterally terminate the VFA, so antayin na lang po natin. I’m sure next week po ay magre-report naman po ‘yung Ambassador natin sa Amerika kay Pangulong Duterte kung ano ‘yung posibleng maging implikasyon at ano ho bang napag-usapan nila doon sa Amerika ni Ambassador (Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez). I’m sure as a representative of the Philippines to the United States, marami po silang napag-usapan. Magre-report po siya kay Pangulong Duterte.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told the media on February 7 that President Rodrigo Duterte instructed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to ask the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to send the United States the official notice to terminate the VFA.
During the radio interview, Go was also asked about the President’s remarks that he is planning to run for President next elections because he goes around the country to help victims of fires and other calamities.
“Mapagbiro po ang ating Pangulo. Kung tatakbo po ako, di niya po ‘yun sasabihin sa publiko. Ang aga pa po para pag-usapan ang politika,” Go answered.
“Kakatakbo ko lang noong nakaraang taon. Pagod na pagod na po ako katatakbo, kaya hayaan niyo muna akong maglakad sa ngayon. Patungo naman itong direksyon ko sa pagseserbisyo sa ating kapwa Pilipino. Wala po akong plano at hindi ko po inaambisyon iyan,” he added.