CEBU

Briones: Standing up to the US

On the go

I WAS seriously going to write the second part of my “shark” story, but then something on social media caught my attention.

I hesitated. I know there may be a lot of you out there—so okay, maybe one or two or three, probably a sprinkling—who truly want to know what happened when Ruel Dahis Antipuesto and I took to the streets during the Sinulog Grand Parade last Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, and shot, guerrilla style, several scenes without a script, a crew, a budget or permission.

And bless your hearts for caring. Truly. Madly. Deeply. But I know I made the right choice.

After all, who are Ruel and I to take precedence over President Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Bato dela Rosa?

Exactly.

If you still don’t know yet, then it’s probably because you don’t care. It’s as simple as that. Or, you might have been too caught up with your fantastical lives to listen, watch or read the news.

Seriously, there are so many things going on out there that can grab everybody’s fancy like, say, Nadine Lustre breaking up with James Reid. So I don’t blame some of you for being ignorant. And I don’t mean that as an insult. Really.

But when our chief executive issues a challenge to the richest and most powerful country in the globe, the whole archipelago has to do a double-take.

Oh, I don’t mean China. It’s time hasn’t come yet. Perhaps in 10 or 20 years, the whole world will be kowtowing to the Middle Kingdom, but right know that distinction belongs to the United States of America.

And since “the whole archipelago” also means me, I, too, had to stop and say, “What?”

You see, this is what happened.

The Americans cancelled dela Rosa’s US visa, a fact confirmed by the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs chairman.

“I sent an official letter to the US Embassy inquiring from them, if really my visa was cancelled,” dela Rosa said in an interview. “I received the official answer the day before my birthday, Jan. 20. It was a good birthday gift. They informed me that my visa is no longer valid for travel to the US.”

The embassy did not provide any reason, but it probably had something to do with the US’ 2020 budget law signed by President Donald Trump that includes a provision denying entry to Philippine officials responsible for the detention of dela Rosa’s fellow senator, Leila de Lima.

As a result, Duterte gave Washington a one-month deadline to reconsider its action.

“I am warning you, this is the first time. Kapag hindi ninyo ginawa ang correction diyan. One, I will terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement. Tapusin ko yang p***** *** na ‘yan,” the President told a crowd in San Isidro, Leyte. “I am giving notice and they begin to count. I am giving the American government one month from now.”

Of course, the crowd probably doesn’t know that “a US visa is a conditional authorization granted to a foreigner” that may be cancelled without explanation or justification, as Sen. Panfilo Lacson pointed out in a statement on Friday, Jan. 24, while “the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and US is a BILATERAL accord that went through some back-and-forth diplomatic discussions prior to ratification by the Senate, after some intense plenary deliberation.”

But, hey, what the crowd saw was our President standing up to the American bully who took his lackey’s visa privileges.

And so I wait with bated breath for the American’s reply. If, indeed, it will.


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