MANILA — Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go emphasized on Monday, February 10, that he believes President Rodrigo Duterte has the authority to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States (US).
“Hintayin na lang natin ang magiging desisyon ng Pangulo. He has the authority to terminate the VFA since he is the chief architect of Philippine foreign policy,” Go said in an ambush interview during his visit to fire victims in Port Area, Manila.
Go also expressed his support to the President on what his decision may be, saying “Suportado ko kung ito ang magiging desisyon ng mahal na Pangulo.”
Go, in a previous interview, said he respects the opinion of other senators who believe that the Senate should first review the termination of the VFA.
“Separate branch of government naman po kami, at karapatan po ng bawat senador to express our views, their views,” Go said.
Asked if he would vote for the Senate resolution asking the President to reconsider his decision, Go answered in a previous interview, “Susunod po ako kung ano ‘yung batas. Kung naaayon naman sa ating batas na pwedeng i-terminate ng Presidente ang VFA at kung di na po kailangan ng concurrence ng Congress ay respetuhin dapat po ‘yun.”
“Kapag naman sinabing kailangan munang i-review, rerespetuhin ko rin ito,” he added.
Asked if he personally agrees with the termination of the country’s VFA with the US, Go said that the US senators who meddle in the Philippines’ domestic affairs should be taught a lesson. He also asked them to “mind their own business”.
“Sa totoo lang, dapat bigyan ng leksyon ang mga pakialamerong senador (ng US). Tayo, hindi naman tayo nakikialam sa kanila. Just mind your own business. This is democracy,” he said.
Go also expressed that the US senators should thoroughly inform themselves of the facts of the case of Senator Leila de Lima, reiterating that there is no persecution in her detention.
“Alamin muna nila dapat ano ang nangyari rito. Wala naman pong ginagawang persecution. Merong prosecution upheld by the Supreme Court sa kaso ni de Lima,” he said.
The Supreme Court, in June of 2018, affirmed its earlier ruling, upholding the legality of the arrest of de Lima over drug charges.
Go also stressed that the US senators have no right to interfere in the Philippines’ domestic affairs.
“Panghihimasok po itong ginagawa nila just to pressure us. Wala po kayong karapatang manghimasok sa aming bansa,” he said.
Go assists fire victims in Manila
Meanwhile, Go gave aid to 1,211 families comprised of 4,255 individuals affected by a fire that razed 200 houses on February 4 at Baseco Compound, Port Area.
Aside from relief and financial assistance, Go also offered to provide for the uniforms and various school supplies of the affected students.
“May dala po akong konting tulong sa inyo. Sa mga estudyante rin na nandito na nasunugan ng gamit, ako na ang magbibigay ng school supplies para sa inyo,” he said.
Aside from the assistance provided by Go, the victims also received various forms of government assistance from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) and National Housing Authority (NHA). Local officials were also present during the visit.
“‘Yung mga national government agencies natin, mayroon din silang ibibigay na tulong sa inyo,” he said before enumerating the various types of assistance to be provided by the agencies.
Go also explained the concept of the Malasakit Center program to the residents, saying that it aims to cut time, money and effort spent by Filipinos just to seek government financial and medical assistance.
With the medical assistance programs coming from the four participating agencies already available in the Malasakit Center, Go also mentioned that the target is to reduce the hospital bills of indigent and poor patients to the lowest possible amount.
“Zero balance billing ang target po natin dito,” he said.
The Senator also extended help to those who need to undergo medical operations.
Meanwhile, during the ambush interview, Go was also asked for his comments regarding the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against ABS-CBN. Calida filed the petition before the Supreme Court on Monday to revoke the network’s franchise.
Go said that the Solicitor General “has a mind of his own” and refused to comment further on the issue.
“Hindi ko pa nabasa ang kanyang quo warranto. No further comment muna ako rito. Kung sakaling makarating ito sa Senado, then I will decide,” he said.
As for the successful repatriation of 32 Filipinos who sought to return to the country from China amid the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (2019-nCoV ARD) issue, Go said that he is happy with the preparations undertaken by the health officials and concerned agencies.
“Ok naman ang preparasyon natin. Naintindihan naman ng tao after magsalita ng Pangulo at health officials. Maraming naliwanagan,” he said.
“Sa preparasyon naman sa pagbalik ng overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), nasunod naman ang protocol. Sundin lang natin. Have patience. Kalma lang tayo. ‘Wag tayong magpanic para walang madamay. ‘Wag tayong mag-spread ng fake news,” he added.
Go also said that now is the right time for Filipinos to showcase their bayanihan spirit, saying “Magbayanihan tayo. Kaya natin itong lampasan.” (PRIB/IAMIGO/SPH.com)