PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty now reduced to mere paper treaty after VFA termination – Lacson

Robie de Guzman   •   February 11, 2020   •   1161

MANILA, Philippines – The Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States “will now be reduced to a mere paper treaty” with the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Senator Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday.

“Like it or not, bad or good, nothing much can be done now but do a 180-day countdown upon receipt of the notice by Washington,” Lacson said in a statement.

“What is certain is that the 1951 PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty will now be reduced to a mere paper treaty as far as the US is concerned,” he added.

Lacson made the statement after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) signed and sent a notice formally scrapping the VFA to the United States.

The MDT was signed by Washington and Manila in 1951 where both parties agreed to support each other in case of an armed attack.

The VFA, on the other hand, came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines.

It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification.

“Having said that, there’s no more intelligence information sharing in our fight against domestic and foreign terrorist acts, no more US military aid and financing that accounts for a good 52% of what they extend to the whole Asia-Pacific region,” Lacson said.

“That may not include other intangible economic benefits and security from external threats in the West Philippine Sea, as well as humanitarian aid in times of disasters, epidemics and other crises,” he added.

Lacson and other senators earlier filed a resolution asking President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his plan to scrap the VFA while the Senate reviews it.

Duterte in January threatened to terminate the deal following the US’ move to cancel the visa of his ally, former National Police chief and now Senator Ronald Dela Rosa.

Duterte to join democracy summit hosted by US – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   December 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to participate in the “Summit for Democracy” to be hosted by the United States government this week, Malacañang said.

In a statement, the Office of the President said Duterte will join the summit set on December 9 to 10 “upon the invitation of US President Joe Biden.”

“President Biden has invited heads of state and government, other government leaders and voices from the business and nongovernment sectors to join the US in taking action to strengthen democracy,” the Palace said.

Malacañang said Duterte “has accepted” Biden’s invitation.

“President Duterte likewise welcomes the opportunity to share the Philippine democratic experience and commitment to democratic values and nation-building at the Summit for Democracy,” it added.

Biden will convene world leaders from government, the private sector, business and the civil society in the virtual summit. It will focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies and will provide a platform for leaders to announce both individual and collective commitments, reforms, and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad, according to the US State Department.

The summit has three key themes: Defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.

The United States said the summit will offer an opportunity to listen, learn, and engage with a diverse range of actors whose support and commitment is critical for global democratic renewal.

Lacson, Sotto test negative for illegal drugs

Maris Federez   •   November 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential aspirant Senator Panfilo Lacson and running mate Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday (November 22) underwent voluntary drug testing at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) office in Diliman, Quezon City, and tested negative for drug use, a statement from the Partido Reporma said.

Earlier in the day, Sotto said: “Magkaalaman na kung sino matatapang”.

The Lacson-Sotto tandem said their move was to show that they are drug-free and fit to run in the 2022 national and local elections.

Sotto earlier said that ordinary drug tests only determine “shabu” or  “marijuana” use.

However, the PDEA test that they took, he said, is a ‘’multi-drug one-step immunometric assay for the detection of drugs of abuse in urine.’’

In the statement, Lacson said he and Sotto took a multi-drug screening procedure, which is capable of detecting all types of illegal substances in a human body. They both tested negative for illegal drugs.

The tandem went through all the protocols from the signing up of forms to the submission of their urine samples where an attending physician monitored them closely to ensure the authenticity of the tests.

Last Friday, Lacson suggested Friday conducting a random drug test to candidates following President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement on an unnamed presidential candidate who was into cocaine.

“I have never been addicted to drugs all my life, so I have no problem with that. In fact, we should all undergo random testing to make it more credible,” he said.

Meanwhile, in an ambush interview in General Santos City, Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go who is also running for president, reiterated that, although it is not mandatory, he is willing to undergo drug testing any time of the day.

“Ako naman po willing magpa-drug test anytime of the day. Anytime po kung kakailanganin,” Go said.

“Though hindi mandatory, pero just to prove lang po sa Pilipino kung sino yung fit na mamuno sa ating bansa ay willing po akong magpa-drug test, any time of the day po,” he added. —/mbmf

US reopens borders to foreign tourists after 20 months

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 8, 2021

The United States (US) has reopened its land and air borders to fully vaccinated foreign visitors after a 20-month travel restriction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US will lift its travel ban on 30 countries but will still implement strict regulations for foreign individuals arriving in the country. Passengers will be required be tested within three days before travel and will have to present negative Covid-19 test results. Unvaccinated travelers, meanwhile, will be allowed entry to the US as long as it falls under ‘essential trips’.

US borders were closed after March 2020 to travelers from large parts of the world, including the Canada, Mexico, the European Union, Britain and China, India and Brazil. AAC

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