Senator Dela Rosa maintains loyalty to Duterte over VFA termination

DUTERTE-ALLIED Senator Ronald M. dela Rosa is not supporting the Senate leaders’ plan to question before the Supreme Court the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States without the Senate’s concurrence. “I’m not supporting it,” Mr. Dela Rosa said in a briefing on Tuesday. He argued that while the 1987 Constitution provides that the chamber must concur in the implementation of treaties and agreements, it did not state the same is required in its withdrawal. “Kailangan pa ba ang interpretasyon ng (Do we need the interpretation of the) Supreme Court, kung mabasa natin sa Constitution hindi nakalagay d’on (if we can read in the Constitution that it is not indicated there)?” Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said the chamber is seeking clarification whether the withdrawal of treaties should pass the Senate or not. Mr. dela Rosa said there is a “considerable number” of senators who likewise do not support the filing of the petition. Mr. Dela Rosa abstained from voting in favor of adopting the Senate resolution asking President Rodrigo R. Duterte to reconsider the VFA abrogation while the chamber conducts a review of the agreement. Charmaine A. Tadalan

Espenido’s inclusion in narco-list ‘black propaganda’ and intelligence ‘flaw’ — Panelo

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON Salvador S. Panelo on Tuesday defended Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido’s inclusion in the watchlist of officers allegedly linked to the illegal drug trade, saying it could have been partly due to failure in intelligence gathering as well as “black propaganda” by his enemies. He said Mr. Espenido, who has been at the frontline of the administration’s controversial drug war, still has President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s full trust. “The President says that’s black propaganda as far as he’s concerned. Biktima siya (Mr. Espenido is a victim),” he said. “It’s not unexpected that there may be some flaws in intelligence gathering. That happens. Sometimes they’re even intentional, you are being fed with the wrong info coming from those who are against a particular officer,” he added. — Gillian M. Cortez