THE Senate foreign relations committee will study a government plan to end an agreement with the US on the deployment of troops and equipment for war games, after the visa of an administration senator was canceled.
The chamber will summon officials from the Foreign Affairs and Defense departments to shed light on the status of the visiting forces agreement with the US, Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III told dzBB radio on Sunday.
Mr. Pimentel, who heads the committee, said he wants to hear an accounting of the military deal.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte last week asked the US government to reverse its decision to cancel Senator Ronald M. dela Rosa’s US visa, giving it a month-long ultimatum.
Mr. dela Rosa last week said the US embassy had canceled his visa. Mr. Duterte’s former police chief led the government’s deadly war on drugs that has killed thousands before he became a senator.
He was also considered to be among those responsible for the detention of Senator Leila M. de Lima, a staunch critic of Mr. Duterte’s anti-illegal drug campaign.
The US Senate last year passed a resolution asking the Philippine government to release Ms. de Lima. It also sought to block the entry and freeze the US assets of officials behind drug-related killings and Ms. de Lima’s “wrongful detention.”
US President Donald Trump also signed into law last year the nation’s 2020 budget, which includes a clause allowing the US secretary of state to ban the entry of Philippine officials behind Ms. de Lima’s detention.
Ms. de Lima, a staunch critic of Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs, has been in jail since February 2017 for drug trafficking.
Mr. Pimentel said the President’s pronouncement is “not sufficient” to terminate a treaty, but said it is within Mr. Duterte’s power.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr., who heads the VFA committee, earlier said he had asked Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana to begin the process of ending the military agreement.
Among other things, the deal allows the US government to retain jurisdiction over American soldiers accused of committing crimes in the Philippines, unless the crimes are “of particular importance” to the Southeast Asian nation. — Charmaine A. Tadalan