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Duterte turns down Trump invite to visit US

DUTERTE

DUTERTE

President Duterte has turned down President Donald Trump’s invitation to visit the United States in March and ordered the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the US following the cancellation of Sen. Ronald dela Rosa’s US visa.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte has decided not to visit the US despite Malacañang’s earlier statement the President was pondering on the invitation to participate in the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“He said he’s not going. For many reasons. Which I already stated earlier. And the other reason was the cancellation of Sen. Bato’s visa. So that added to the other factors,” Panelo said.

Duterte’s one-month deadline for the US to rectify the cancellation of Dela Rosa’s visa will no longer push through as he has ordered the government to start the process of terminating the VFA.

“Tinanong ko siya kagabi when will the process start. ‘Tonight!’ So I relayed it to (Foreign Affairs) Secretary (Teodoro) Locsin,” he said. “The process of starting it has commenced, or will commence today,” he added.

Panelo explained that Duterte’s decision was based on the accumulation of the US’ alleged intrusion into Philippine sovereignty, particularly on their lawmakers’ call to release Sen. Leila de Lima that resulted to a provision barring the entry of Filipino government officials supposedly behind her arrest and continued detention to their territory.

“They cannot dictate at us or bully us into releasing a citizen of this country who is lawfully detained. When they introduced that amendment, (that is) tantamount, to our mind, as a disrespect,” he said. “The President feels that we cannot sit down and just watch idly,” he added.

Panelo said Locsin, who will go to the US soon, has convened a committee vice-chaired by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and asked them to start the process of terminating the VFA.

The Palace official described Duterte as “authoritative, serious, and assertive” when he made the order about ending the treaty.

“He was authoritative, serious, he was assertive,” Panelo said. “They’ve been intruding into our domestic affairs, bullying us into submission. We cannot allow that. Meanwhile, they’re having privileges here tapos (but) they’re treating us this way,” he added. (Argyll Geducos)

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