Malacañang on Thursday, January 30, said that the President’s position for the Philippines to “tone down” relations with the United States is a statement that the country must rely on its own resources.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Salvador S. Panelo explained that to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s mind, the country should strengthen its capabilities and resources in defending the sovereignty of the Philippines from foreign intrusions.
“But you know, it’s about time that we, as a country, rely on our own resources. We cannot be relying on others. We have to strengthen our capability in defending ourselves from foreign intrusions,” Panelo explained.
“By relying mainly on one particular country, you lessen your capability from the moment that alliance with that country is terminated,” he said.
It can be recalled that the Chief Executive said he would cause the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) from the United States following Senator Ronald dela Rosa’s US visa cancellation.
But for Panelo, the decision from the President is more of a protest against the actions of the US government to the Philippines.
“Siguro sa aking tingin, my personal insight of that decision, of that boycott, is more of a protest sa ginagawa nila sa mga kababayan natin,” Panelo said.
The Palace official cited four major reasons that forced the Chief Executive to take this route. First, several US government officials demanded the release of the lawfully detained Philippine Senator Leila de Lima. For Panelo, this is a brazen interference on the country’s judicial system.
Second, the passing of a Senate resolution that condemned the Philippines’ war on drugs. Panelo said the same US Senators have prejudice against President Duterte amid the refutation by the Philippine government that the war on drugs is bearing fruit.
Third, the introduction of an amendment to the US budget, barring entry of certain Philippine government officials in line with De Lima’s detention. Lastly, the cancellation of Sen. Dela Rosa’s US visa which became the last straw. OPS/PCO-Content