By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Coconuts Manila

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said Friday that President Rodrigo Duterte, as chief architect of the Philippine foreign policy, has the prerogative to decide on whatever will happen to the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with United States.

Go made the statement during the groundbreaking ceremony of Northeastern Misamis General Hospital in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.

“Alam mo, nirerespeto ko po ang…desisyon ng ating Pangulo as the Chief Architect of our foreign policy. Sovereign country naman po tayo and independent country ang Pilipinas,” Go said.

He said Duterte was concerned on national interest and Filipinos’ welfare, adding the President would not let Filipino people to be taken advantage of.

“So, kung ano po ‘yung desisyon ng ating Pangulo, hindi naman po ibig sabihin ay maniningil ang Presidente. Kung ano lang po ang tama na kompensasyon para sa Pilipino,” he said.

Go said he also understands different views from his colleagues regarding to the Chief Executive’s position to VFA abrogation.

“We are a separate branch of government and it is the right of each senator to express their views. After all, we are a working democracy,” he added.

Duterte earlier demanded the United States to pay if it wanted to continue its exercises under the VFA, a 1998 agreement allowing American troops to conduct joint military exercises and humanitarian missions with Filipino troops.

Last year, he ordered the agreement’s abrogation but later suspended due to “heightened superpower tensions” and the coronavirus pandemic.

When President Duterte first proposed the abrogation of the VFA in February last year, Go had said that the termination would be an opportunity for the country ‘’to assert sovereignty and reaffirm relations” with the US.       

He said he believes the termination of the VFA “is a chance for us to write a new and better chapter in Philippines–United States relations.” “We should now be able to renew our friendship, reaffirm our ties and resume cooperation as true co-equals,” he added.

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