PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte has ordered his Cabinet members to temporarily “boycott” trips to the United States following his recent pronouncement that he will be revoking the Philippine’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with its long-time ally.
“I will limit siguro sa (maybe on) foreign affairs. 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,” Mr. Duterte said in an ambush interview with reporters on Wednesday at the Batasan.
The President announced his plan to scrap the VFA during a public event last week, in the wake of the cancellation of the US visa of Senator Ronald M. dela Rosa, his former police chief and political ally.
“I am terminating. I was not joking. The day that I said it, that was the day I decided to terminate it,” he said.
Mr. Duterte has also declined attendance to the summit between the US and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada this coming March.
He added that he has not assigned any Cabinet member to represent him.
“They do not want proxies there. I am sure they would notice if the head of state is absent. His chair remains empty. Nobody sits there….wala ako maituro anong proxy ko (I cannot determine who my proxy will be), who will act as my proxy.” — Gillian M. Cortez