By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Benar News

President Rodrigo Duterte took a swipe anew at Vice President Leni Robredo for likening his demand that the United States should pay the Philippines to resume the activities under Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) as “extortion.”

“This Robredo is a lawyer. I can forgive [Sen. Panfilo] Lacson [for his remarks on the VFA] because he’s not. They should look at the Constitution. The foreign policy is vested in the president alone,” Duterte said in a pre-recorded speech that aired late on Monday.

“Every time she opens her mouth, she forgets that she is a lawyer. Being a lawyer, she should know that the Constitution says that that is my function. It is not their function. Whatever I want to say for the sake of the country, there’s a purpose for it,” he added, speaking partly in Filipino.

Duterte said he was not asking for money, but the arms for the Philippines to go on war over its South China Sea dispute.

“The theater of war, if it should ever start, will be at the China Sea. Now we are insisting on Americans that we should be provided with arms and armaments that would place us on equal footing with other countries at war with us,” Duterte said

“That’s what Robredo doesn’t know… You, ma’am, I’m sorry to say, you are not really qualified to run for president. You do not know your role.”

“If by an unfortunate chance you become the President, please study more. I think that you need a refresher course in law,” Duterte added.

Instead of “extorting” U.S., Robredo suggested that the disadvantages of the agreement be laid out yo further explain why the Philippines wanted to suspend the agreement.

On the other hand, Lacson said that “diplomatic and statesmanlike” approach should be done in addressing the agreement.

Malacañang earlier denied that demanding the US to pay to keep the VFA was a form of extortion as funds could be used for the country’s Covid-19 response and other programs.

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