FRIVOLOUS words from a tongue that has a natural potion pooled 16 million votes during the 2016 presidential elections.
President Rodrigo Duterte, with the recent high satisfaction rating, had a bun in the oven that the same number of Filipinos is willing to wait and see him boarding a jet-propelled ski at the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to set up the Philippine flag.
Another playful and frolicsome word that misled the 16 million Filipinos is his promise to end the drug menace in six months. Now that the promissory turned sour, the Filipinos learned they woke up at mid-day. But every time someone ventilates disappointment to this administration, trolls come up with a supposed intelligence report that a certain group wanted to oust the president.
If a snap election will be called today, fetching his failure to end the drug menace in his first six months as promised, I bet not even half of his former adherents will remain loyal, even from the ranks of fattened soldiers and police.
Moving forward, like many impulsive declarations, the president wanted to scrap the 22-year old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States of America. The basis of his statement was a mere onus to his buddy and beyond the sensible purpose for the welfare of the Filipinos. It was an impulsive reaction to the US’ decision to cancel the visa of former PNP chief, his principal implementer of the war on drugs, and now senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
These are few of the imaginable repercussions without the VFA: First, the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) under article II of the agreement cannot be applied and US cannot defend us in time of aggression. So, if cancelling of Bato’s visa feels us like US trod our nationalism and sovereignty equivalent to a rug, then cancelling the VFA would invite aggression of the Chinese, comparable to a stress-free micturating the rug.
Second, the Philippines is a recipient of the biggest chunk of the US security assistance to the Indo-Pacific region. It includes the P807-million surveillance and reconnaissance system with the four OV-10B planes that are used for the counterterrorism campaign. Instead of adding more logistics, we will lose all such privileges in the future by annulling the VFA.
Third, when Philippines was hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, US by virtue of the VFA sent 13,000 military personnel, 66 aircraft and 12 naval vessels to deliver 2,500 tons of relief supplies and evacuated 21,000 Filipinos. In fact, US has provided P143 million worth of aide to date, including the latest P5.1 million support to the affected individuals of the Taal Volcano eruption.
His joke about the haste dispensing of calamity relief by senator Bong Go is an insinuation that assistance is readily available in the government coffers. Any and all senators can do the same if that government fund is really available and equally distributed to all senators. But there is none!
Last, and most importantly, US started to dispense humanitarian assistance of $60 million to reconstruct the war-torn Marawi city which this government alone could hardly provide.
Therefore to abolish VFA is another braggadocio that would only add risk to this country being the weakest of defense in Asia. Let us not be harsh to US our longtime ally but confront the real enemy that subjugates our territory in the WPS.