MANILA, Aug 2 (Mabuhay) — Malacañang said Monday it is up to US President Joe Biden to heed or reject the call of some American senators for him to condemn President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody drug war and other policies allegedly in violation of human rights.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque was referring to a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken dated July 26 sent by Senator Edward J. Markey and ten other senators urging the US government to stand with the Filipino people to fight these rights abuses.
“We leave that decision to President Biden,” Roque said when asked if such call is justified.
“We do not [want] to encroach in US Congress’ affairs, in the same vein that they should not interfere with us. It was an opinion of 10 senators and bahala na po sila ano ang gagawin nila (it is up to them to decide),” he added.
The call of the senators came at the heels of Duterte deciding to keep the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between Washington and Manila after his meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Manila last week.
Before deciding to keep the VFA, Duterte threatened to terminate it multiple times but also extended the agreement at least twice.
The VFA is a 1999 military pact between the Philippines and the US which allows American forces to hold joint military exercises, counter intelligence training and humanitarian aid missions with their Filipino counterparts.
The agreement, however, prohibits US troops from engaging in combat operations. (MNS)