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Thursday, January 30, 2020

President Duterte Prohibits Travel of Cabinet Officials to US

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte answers queries from members of the media on the sidelines of the 69th founding anniversary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) at the DSWD Central Office in Quezon City on January 29, 2020. ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Cabinet members will not be allowed to travel to the United States to boycott the western nation’s interference in Philippine affairs, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Wednesday.

In an interview during the 69th anniversary celebration of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), President Duterte said his government would gradually “tone down” its interactions with the US, noting the restriction on US visits will stay indefinitely.

“I will limit siguro sa Foreign Affairs. But I will not allow any Cabinet member to go there at this time. No Cabinet member should be allowed to go to the United States,” he said in response to a reporter’s question.

“We limit our contact in whatever aspect of international relations would be discussed or subject to talks.”

The President railed against the meddling of the US in the country’s domestic affairs and was irked by the cancelation of former police chief and now senator Ronald Dela Rosa’s US visa.

Last week, the President threatened to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US. He also declined the invitation of President Donald Trump to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-US special summit in Las Vegas in March.

The President said he is serious in terminating the VFA, fending off accusations that his decision to scrap the agreement was subject to his whim.

“No. It started when they mentioned about the resolution in the US Senate. They were trying to figure — trying to figure out who would be the persons who will be barred from entering,” he said, referring to the move by American lawmakers to bar the entry to the US of Philippine officials involved in the incarceration an opposition senator.

“Noon pa lang nag — ‘yung utak ko gumagalaw na. Ganun ako eh, hindi naman ako naghihintay. I am just — I just announced late kay pinapauna ko ‘yung utak ko.”

“Pero at that time, I have decided that if they do this, I will do it not only for Dela Rosa but for every Filipino. Lalo na ‘yung mga taga-gobyerno na magpunta doon supposedly to attend a business concern officially,” the President added.

The VFA, implemented in 1999, allows temporary stay of American forces in the Philippines. It governs movement of US military assets and troops visiting the country.

The agreement also includes provisions on criminal jurisdiction of American military personnel accused of a crime in the Philippines.

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