Dela Rosa says US embassy offered to fix his cancelled visa
In this file photo, Dela Rosa is in the entourage of Sen. Manny Pacquiao, a multi-division boxing champion. Maragay, file

Dela Rosa says US embassy offered to fix his cancelled visa

Bella Perez-Rubio ( - July 8, 2020 - 12:29pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Ronald dela Rosa on Wednesday said that the US embassy advised him to reapply for a visa following President Rodrigo Duterte's call with his American counterpart Donald Trump in April.

"Well, I didn't want to say it, but to be honest, to be frank with you, the US called me after President [Rodrigo] Duterte and President [Donald] Trump spoke. The US embassy called me to take care of my visa," Dela Rosa told ABS-CBN's Headstart in Filipino.

The senator said he would go to the embassy to take care of his visa once quarantine restrictions in the country ease further.

"Well, to be frank, my take on that is after they spoke...they had an understanding...maybe the American president gave an instruction to have my visa fixed which is why the US embassy to called to say they would take care of it. Maybe that's how it happened, I wasn't there when they spoke," he added in Filipino.

VFA uncertainty 

This development comes amid uncertainty over the future of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which the Philippines has terminated.

Duterte drew criticism for announcing his plan to dissolve the VFA last January after Dela Rosa — his political ally and former police chief — had his visa cancelled.

The VFA allows Filipino and American forces to hold joint trainings on Philippine soil. It was signed by the Philippines and the US in 1998 and ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999.

Following widespread criticism, administration officials claimed that the move was actually in response to the US Senate resolution condemning the human rights violations in the Philippines and the call made by some American senators for detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima to be freed.

The decision to scrap the VFA was made formal in February, kicking off a 180-day countdown for it to expire.

However, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced in June that the president ordered the suspension of the agreement's termination. The suspension is for six months but can be extended for another six.

When pressed about what critics might say in response to this development, Dela Rosa remained unbothered.

"Their minds are closed, these critics, they don't need to be spoken to, just leave them alone. What is the explanation? What should I say after this? They will still bash, their minds are closed. I don't need to explain to them," he said in Filipino.

It was not only administration critics, however, who took issue with the VFA's termination.

Dela Rosa's colleagues in the Senate slammed the termination of the decades-old agreement in February, with Senators Ping Lacson and Ralph Recto warning of the negative effects such a move would have on military funding, counter-terrorism, and the economy.

Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, meanwhile, said the move was indicative of what he called the administration's subservience to China.

Even as Filipino fishermen continue to fall victim to Chinese aggression on Philippine territorial waters, the country's top diplomat has maintained that Duterte's China policy is the "opposite of appeasement."

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