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Senators seek LEDAC meeting on Duterte threat to end VFA, set aside Arbitral ruling on SCS

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by Mario B. Casayuran and Hannah L. Torregoza

The Senate Committee on National Defense yesterday urged the Executive branch to call the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) to hammer out a national agenda on Philippine foreign relations, as President Duterte threatened to terminate the 1988 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States.

Sen. Gregorio B. Honasan II, committee chairman, said responsible and accredited experts should be invited and included in the discussion of alternatives of a possible foreign policy pivot from the US to China.

One of the issues that should  be discussed, according to Honasan, is whether the Philippines has benefited from its military alliance with the US which, he noted, gives a pittance to the country through foreign military sales (FMS) ’while it supported Pakistan – which coddled Osama Bin Laden – to the tune of $50 billion.’’

After arriving from Singapore over the weekend, President Duterte made the threat following a decision of a US aid agency, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MMC), to withhold a decision on a new tranche of anti-poverty reportedly due to concerns over alleged human rights violations in the Philippine government’s campaign to rid the Philippines of illegal drugs.

An initial five-year package from MMC for $434 million had been completed last May.

On the possible repeal of the VFA, Honasan said that the Senate, sitting as a Committee of the Whole, could discuss the issue.

“We could call on higher authorities, the Congress, the Executive branch, and if warranted, activate mechanisms that will help us hammer out foreign, economic, and security policy and repair damaged institutions,’’ he said.

All hands should be on deck, Honasan said, stressing the need for a broad, multi-sectoral approach to the country’s problems.

Honasan also said he had asked the country’s economic and security managers on possible repercussions of a possible move away from the US. He asked them, he said, if the country would survive if foreign investors left and they replied that in a worst-case scenario, it will survive because its fundamentals are solid, but it will pay a very high price – “which I think we can manage with our resiliency as a people. Survivor naman tayo,” Honasan said.

Senator  Honasan, a former Army colonel, also  quoted Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana, Philippine ambassador to China, as saying the word “pivot” is inaccurate.

Sta. Romana, according to Honasan, said that the Philippines is developing an equidistant relationship with the US and China – “some sort of equilibrium.”

“If you work by history, the Philippines has a longer friendship with China. Even before the Philippines became a republic, we had trade with China during the time of Lim Ah Hong,” Honasan quoted Sta. Romana. “But China did not colonize us.”

ARBITRAL RULING ON SCS

Some senators yesterday expressed concern over President Duterte’s reported statement that he would shelve the ruling of the UN Arbitral Tribunal that strengthened the Philippines’ claim to disputed territories in the South China Sea and his threat to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should clarify what the President meant when he said he wants to “set aside” the ruling of the international tribunal in the light of reports that China has installed weapons systems in seven disputed areas it has occupied in the sea.

Ending the VFA, which allows American troops o join Philippine troops in regular defense exercises, may have a negative impact on the country’s future generations, according to Gatchalian.

Duterte’s fresh tirades against the US came on the heels of the suspension of a $433-million grant from the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) for the country’s poverty reduction programs.

As for the tribunal ruling that affirmed Philippine rights in the South China Sea, he said, this will “protect our country, our people, and our future generations,” Gatchalian said.

This shift in the Philippine stand on the ruling “is presumed to have undergone extensive consultation with his foreign policy and defense experts,” the senator said.

Sen. Francisco Pangilinan also called on the President to clarify his position on the ruling.

“The Tribunal in its decision recognized our rights as a nation over some 531,000 square kilometers of our exclusive economic zone and our extended continental shelf under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS),” Pangilinan said.

He warned of the drastic effect if the country loses this area which “is larger than the entire land area of the country.”

“This area of 531,000 square kilometers of maritime space includes fisheries, oil, gas, and mineral resources found within the area exclusive to us Filipinos. To set aside the Tribunal’s ruling does not redound to our interest as a nation,” Pangilinan said.

“With due respect, such a pronouncement imperils the national interest in favor of China,” he stressed.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said pivoting toward China and cutting ties with the US and the other Western democracies were the President’s plan “all along.” “He was just looking for a pretext to use so that it would appear that he was only provoked to do it,” Trillanes said.

“But the trial balloons have been floated early on when he won last May, and for the past six months, he has been on a propaganda roadshow about it,” Trillanes said.

Honasan said he hopes the President will ensure that all the foreign policies he would carry out will be within the bounds of the Constitution.

“The President is the chief prosecutor of our foreign economic and security policy. As long as it does not violate our Constitution, and serves our national interest, the President exercises certain prerogatives, judgment calls, and makes decisions based on timely, complete, and accurate information from the entire government, the private and public sector, and all available sources, domestic and foreign,” Honasan said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he would vote against the abrogation of the VFA if the issue is brought to the Senate. “We need the US to maintain a balance of power in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

Lacson, a former national police chief, said that the training and joint military exercises are important components of the troops’ combat readiness. “There’s a lot to learn from those exercises which we have nurtured over a long period of time. It’s mutually beneficial to both countries that we maintain such alliance,” Lacson said.

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  • tk

    Dissolve senate and congress first, to have a free hand in developing independent policies.

    A handful of hardworking competent makabayan, will be much better than all those senate and congress fat, thieving, grandstanding clowns who are just wasting so much time and so much badly needed resources.

    Perform magic by making all the nuisance elements disappear first. Everything will fall into place after that – the only effective medicine.

  • txslim55

    DoDirty is not going to say ANYTHING against China, if he does he wont get his money.

    EVERY THOUGH ALL THE DRUGS COME FROM CHINA

  • Paking

    Shall we believe Honasan and how reliable is he as Committee Chairman of the senate in National Defense? Where is he and what has he done during the time that China was illegally occupying Philippine territories? He was then very quiet and chose to be a useless observant. Now, he is suddenly barking and acting more like a politician by going along with what Digong wanted.

  • Francisco G.

    wala rin naman kasing nanginginabang sa VFA na yan kundi mga kano lang naman!

  • daisy

    wala nang dapat pagusapan pa! Alisin nalang ang VFA na yan!

  • luke

    end VFA now! alisin na natin ang VFA na yan para di na makapanglamang sa atin ang kano!

    • Mind Hack

      unsa diay gi buhat nila oi?

  • paulo

    walang masama sa kagustuhan ni duterte na buwagin ang VFA!

  • lita

    walang utak yan si sayad dutiti!

    • ricardo

      baka ikaw ang may sayad! baka ikaw rin ang walang utak!

  • babart-gay

    alisin na ang VFA na yan pabigat lang naman yan sa bansa natin!

    • Mind Hack

      please do… prepare to defend your selves. no matter how much help the US gives us. wala jud moy mga utang kabobot-on.
      daghan kaayo insik diha sa pinas. gi unsa man pag tratar ang pinoy sa mga insik diha. expect more of the same put from china.

  • kevin–kevz

    kano lang naman ang nakikinabang yan marapta naman tlaga na alisin na yan total wala lang nman yan na kwenta!

  • Rox{rey}

    VFA na walng kwenta ano naman yan ni hindi nga yan kayang tulungan ang problema natin sa bansang ito!

  • toni Lorenz

    ang walang kwenta vfa hindi na kailangan pang patagalin dahil wala naman na kwenta!

  • low wendy

    wala naman na kwenta ang pangulo niyo dapt jan pinpatalsik hindi naman makatrungan ang kanyng gingawa sa bansa natin!.

    • Angie

      CAN YOU ZIP YOUR MOUTH?!!

  • Right-of-Expression

    It will be foolish for lawmakers to allow DUdirty’s obsession of idelogy and personal agenda on bringing communist Chinese protectionism in the country and severe ties with US and allies, a real threat to national security. Possibly scenario, PH will soon feel the bites of economic degradation and freedom in the country especially when DUdirty was forcing minions in congress approving his federalism leading to one man rule. Should lawmakers still love the country they used to be they shouldn’t be intimindated by fear and intimidattion from narcissistic president.

  • Harper

    yes Pakistan got money fro the US and Filipines didn’t Where do you think the money comes from. it is on the backs of the taxpayers in the US. Aid of any kind should stop . Work for your own money

  • Kiligkilig

    We cannot live forever in the mentality of being “survivor” forever in our lifetime. Filipino leaders must think and work hard to strive in forgetting themselves as persons of importance as politics in the Philippines causes as the number one obstacles why Filipinos are still graduands of dirty politics, poverty and now major in EJK.

  • briel

    nakakatakot nman tlaga

  • sea eagle

    Dumb and dumber Honasan doesnt know history Lim ah Hong is a Chinese pirate he didnt do trade he plundered what a moron like chihuahua lapdog Gordon,how this dingdong become commitee chairman.Mahiyain tayong mga Pilipino sa paghingi ng tulong kaya butil lang ang nakukuha natin tapos kung mayroon ibinubulsa lang ng mga magnanakaw na politico.

  • misswuaahh

    ginawa naman lang ng pdu30 ang nararapat saatin.

    • abbybeh

      yes tama ka dyan,yan ang hindi nila maintindihan

      • jhay bosit

        totoo yan at wlang kasalanan dyan ang pdu30

        • alexis

          kaya nga bilib kami sa kakayahan nya

  • marivon

    Where in the world did Honasan learned that Lim Ah Hong was a business trader with the natives of the Philippines? Honasan Senator of the Republic is ignorant of Philippine history. The Chinese dude was a pirate. And if you think the Chinks will treat us as equals, think again. Look at how they fortified the stolen shoals. You people wake up puro kayo rhetorics, wala naman laman.

    • angpilipinongayon

      Honasan did not say Limhong is a trader. He quoted Limhong because the person is a notable pirate in the 16th century (1500s). So to draw a period, it makes perfect to quote a popular pirate at that time with regards to our trading with China in order to know of what era our friendship with Chinese started. The point is China did not colonize us and has been trading with us and have this long friendship with the Philippines even before it became a republic, unlike those western powers.

      You are the one that is ignorant of history and misquoted Honasan.

      • Decent Pinoy

        Sorry, but if you check your history, during the Asian Economic Crisis, the Philippines did not need China’s help; strict banking practices on minimum deposits/currency controls and OFW remittances insulated the country from the rest of the region’s woes.

        China has already acted in the SCS: they’ve destroyed vast areas of coral reef and built up military-capable dual-use bases for fear of losing the arbitration, unmindful of the massive environmental destruction that wreaks havoc on the regional marine ecosystem, systematically excluded Filipino fishers from traditional fishing grounds in the Spratlys and Scarborough, and attempted to prevent Philippine petroleum exploration on Reed Bank. China is not one of our oldest allies; we opened diplomatic relations with China only in 1975; prior to that in the 1950s-1960s, China was supporting the export of communist revolution throughout the Southeast Asian region. That’s why the CPP-NPA-NDF is Maoist in origin, and it went against the Leninist/Stalinist Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas.

        • angpilipinongayon

          I am talking about the years 1500s. READ AGAIN = I am talking about the years 1500s.

  • danes salvador

    patalsikin na yan si dutae

    • analisa

      haha..nag bibiro kaba?baliw.

    • brent-leley

      hindi nyo kaya ang pdu30.

  • QQQ
  • aRiEL

    patuloy lang tayo sa pag tiwala sa ating leader,alam nya ang mkakabuti para sa pilipinas.

  • gigi leny

    yung iba kc puro kontra sa mga desisyon ni digong,wala naman naitutulong.hayaan nating gumawa ng paraan ang ating leader para lumago ang ating bansa.

    • glenn robio

      wag kayo masyadong naniniwala sa pangulo nyong bugok!

      • kier Luis

        nag kalat talaga ang anay sa mundo.

  • louieboboy

    hayaan na natin ang pdu30 sa anuman ang knyang desisyon ang lahat nman yan sa ikakaganda ng ating bansa

  • charm

    malaki talaga ang tiwala ko sa ating leader na mababago nya ang ating bansa.

  • Tifanny Luna Asuncion

    Ano ba naman yan di man lang mag sawa sa kakaputak, wala naman saysay mga pinuputak daig pa ang manok. Tumigil ka na nga Trillanes!

  • Lily Scarlet Castro

    Inggit lang siguro yang si trillanes kaya kung ano ano na lang pinag sasabi. Mamamatay ka na lang sa inggit sa ginagawa mo

  • Emma Isabelle Lopez

    Ang mga haters parang imbestigador yan dahil lahat ng galaw mo nakasunod sayo at binabantayan ka, parang trillanes lang.

  • Ethan Gabe Dela Cruz

    Trillanes lagi mong tatandaan lahat tayo may karapatan mag salita pero wala tayong karapatan para manira. Senador ka pa naman wala man lang makuhang good character ang mga bata sayo.

  • Frank Thomas San Lazaro

    Galit lang yan si trillanes kasi di nya makuha at magawa ang mga bagay na gusto nya kasi di tatay digong ang nakaupo.

  • Manuel Warren San Juan

    Mas maganda talaga yung mag nag sasabi ng totoo kahit may konting kurot sa puso kesa sa mga taong binibilog lang ang iyong ulo sa kasinungalingan matuwa ka lang, trillanes resign!

  • Roger Pataklob

    Marami nga ang nakakakilala sayo pero konti lang ang tunay na nakakaintindi sayo dahil abnormal yang utak mo trillanes.

  • Jack Oliver Segismundo

    Napaka epal naman talaga nyang trillanes na yan, kelan ba yan kukunin ni satanas? Ang tagal naman.

  • Mariah Caitlyn Malangan

    Wag natin masyadong problemahin at pansinin ang tulad ni trillanes mamamatay din yan.

  • Jhane Sarah Lahbatti

    Ang mga pekeng tao ay parang basura nakakalat lang, kaya para sa mga basurero paki kuha na po si trillanes

  • Abbighale Montessori

    Daig pa ni trillanes mga chismosa sa lugar namen, baka nga nag OOT pa yang si trillanes para lang pumutak.

  • Amelia Ava Munoz

    Dapat ndi sa senado yang si trillanes eh dapat dinadala na yan sa mental.

  • Thomas Arthur Melenio

    Sige push mo yang ginagawa mo trillanes dahil malapit ka ng kunin sa impyerno.

  • Ryan Nathan Buendia

    Gwapo ka nga kaso medjo may pag ka tanga ka din pala trillanes hehe

  • Desmond Felix Santa Cruz

    Aanhin mo ang isang trillanes kung puro naman kasinungalingan ang lumalabas sa bibig ng senador na yan