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Not a blackmail: Palace says on Duterte's 'No vaccine, No VFA' threat

 By Deighton Acuin

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque (PHOTO: Inquirer.net)

Malacañang said Monday President Rodrigo Duterte's warning to terminate Visited Forces Agreement (VFA) if the United States failed to provide its coronavirus vaccines was not a "blackmail," saying there is nothing wrong with his remarks.

“Unang una po, ang Presidente pa rin ang chief architect ng ating foreign policy so hindi po natin puwede ipagkait sa ating Pangulo ‘yung ganyang desisyon,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online briefing.

“Wala pong masama dyan, hindi po ‘yan blackmail. ‘Yan po ‘yung ibig sabihin ng independiyenteng panlabas na polisiya o independent foreign policy. Hindi po tayo sunud-sunuran. Hindi po tayo didiktahan ng kahit sino,” he added.

In an address last Saturday, Duterte demanded 20 million doses of American drugmakers' vaccines to block VFA termination.

Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson responded to the remarks, saying there are "more diplomatic ways" of giving demands to US "without sending blackmails on it."

The lawmaker added that Duterte's threat could have limited the country's vaccine source to the cure being developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firms.

“Kailangan namin ng vaccine, may vaccine kayo, bigyan niyo kami. Kinakailangan niyo ang aming teritoryo para sa Visiting Forces Agreement, sige ibibigay namin ‘yan pero kung hindi niyo naman kami bibigyan ng bakuna edi doon kayo mag VFA sa mga bansang binigyan niyong una ng bakuna. Hindi ba tama lang naman ‘yan?” Roque said.

The government sent a notice of VFA termination, subject to Duterte's instruction.

But the scrapping of VFA was shelved for six months in June. The six-month suspension ends this December.


RELATED ARTICLE: Philippine Daily Inquirer

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