February 26, 2021

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Listen to people on VFA, Duterte told

KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

President Rodrigo R. Duterte should listen to the people to help him decide whether to end a military deal with the United States on the deployment of troops for war games, according to a senator.

“Nobody has the monopoly of wisdom regardless of power and authority,” Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said in a statement on Friday.

“The best decisions are those made not out of hubris, but the humility of listening to as many people and trying to get a bit of what they have to say,” he added.

Mr. Duterte in a pre-recorded public address on Wednesday said he had not decided on whether the Philippines would end or renew a two-decade-old visiting forces agreement (VFA) with the US.

Mr. Duterte in February said he was ending the VFA after the US Embassy canceled the visa of Senator Ronald M. dela Rosa, his former police chief who led his deadly war on drugs.

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He suspended the termination for six months in June, citing heightened tensions in the region and saying it was a distraction to countries’ anti-coronavirus efforts. It was suspended again for another six months.

“The decision is his to make anyway. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain in listening to others,” Mr. Lacson said. “What matters most is that our national interest, dignity and self-respect will be upheld.”

Meanwhile, House Deputy Speaker Rufus B. Rodriguez urged Mr. Duterte to keep the deal with the US.

“The President wants to feel the public pulse on the VFA,” he said in a statement. “I think most Filipinos not only support the agreement but want the government to strengthen Philippine-US relations.” — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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