FIRING LINE: For the love of Bato

FIRING LINE: For the love of Bato

Robert B. Roque, Jr.

There is no iota of doubt that former national police chief and now Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa is one of the most trusted men of President Duterte.

He values Dela Rosa’s friendship so much that he is willing to revoke the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the United States and the Philippines if Washington does not reverse its cancellation of Bato’s visa in a month.

Apart from the agreement, Duterte also wants to get back at the United States by banning the entry of all American lawmakers who voted in favor of a Senate committee report which seeks to ban US entry of Philippine officials involved in the “wrongful imprisonment” of Senator Leila de Lima.

I agree with Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson when he questioned the connection between a US visa, which is a conditional authorization granted to a foreigner which can be canceled without explanation, and a bilateral agreement between the Philippines and the US that went through careful and diplomatic discussion.

When it comes to advantages that our people get through the VFA, we had seen several instances when US troops helped Filipinos in times of disasters.  

The VFA also serves as a deterrent against China’s bullying activities in the West Philippine Sea. China knows that Pinoys’ “Big Brother” is just around the corner.

The agreement has shown that both the Philippines and the US benefited from it. So why terminate it just because a friend’s US visa was revoked?

Duterte ought to review his overzealous response.

As I have maintained in a recently published column, it is any country’s right to allow or disallow entry of any foreign visitor into the country. If the State Department believes that Bato and other Philippine officials are implicated in human rights abuses, then it is the US’s right to ban their entry into American lands.

In the same way, our government has every right to deny entry to those US senators if they ever intend to visit the Philippines.

Senator Bato, about your revoked US visa, don’t take it to heart. It’s not the end of the world.

How about a visa to China? The Chinese will surely accommodate you and, possibly, even grant you a 10-year, multiple-entry permit, or even an “unli” visa. You know how deeply China loves you.

Oh, and don’t go there just yet. Wait for the coronavirus outbreak to end.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at https://thephilbiznews.com

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