EVEN as many think it was his demoralized ego that drove him to abrogate the VFA, President Duterte may be taking the opportunity to wrangle difficult deals with the US.
Both his political allies and critics may probably be second-guessing the President with his exceptional penchant for double-talk that was quite apparent, among other whimsical decisions, in the appointment and then abrupt discharge of Vice-President Leny Robredo as drug czar.
He does not want to become an unforgettable historical character for virtually breaking up a vital part of the security and economic relationship with the world’s biggest superpower due to the flimsiest reason – the cancellation of the US visa of a former PNP chief.
Washington will not mind the President backing off because surely the State Department has other things in mind other than the nonchalance of President Trump who otherwise seemed glad that the termination of the VFA would just save money for his government.
The real fear that the Philippines will be unprotected from outside military and terrorist aggression is, of course, widely shared in Washington largely because of the military, security and economic interests that favor the US here.
Even if he wanted to, Trump could not flex his muscle against Malacanang since the deal was an executive agreement and not a treaty, which would require the mandatory concurrence of the Senate, as in the abolition of the military bases treaty during President Cory’s time. Otherwise, Trump would have probably rejected the notice of termination from Manila until it had complied with the constitutional mandate of the Senate to review and approve or deny it.
For its benefit and for our mutual protection, US intelligence has remained thorough in leading security surveillance for our mostly unguarded coastlines that have likely drawn undeterred terrorist groups and drug syndicates since the President served the notice of the VFA termination to Washington. Even without the VFA, the US has no other recourse but to pursue covert operations for this purpose. Fortunately, Chinese encroachment has faltered at the West Philippine Sea since the widespread coronavirus paralyzed Beijing and its leadership.
Each year, the Valentine month fosters a cosmetic way of pleasing people by not including those we abhor on whom should otherwise apply the agape kind of love. Last Sunday, Senior Pastor Peter Tanchi of the Christ’s Commission Fellowship (CCF) preached on the rare topic of “Loving the Unlovable” and gave his own moving testimony on showing compassion to the most hated person in his life. Their family lost their thriving business, one of the country’s largest textile firms, to a close friend who betrayed him. It was a Marcos crony who practically stole his profitable business and his family’s wealth during martial law.
Pastor Tanchi tried to move on and founded the CCF in the early 80s with some Born-again business friends. (CCF is today the largest Born-Again church in the country with global outreaches in four continents.) One day, he was informed that his friend-turned enemy was very ill and had requested him to visit and pray for him in the hospital. Pastor Tanchi was not ready to let go of his seething disdain for him. He would confront himself, “What if he repents and receives Christ as his God and Savior? What if he is saved and goes to heaven?”
But he finally relented under God’s rebuke; after all, he was God’s servant and living out and teaching Biblical truths, especially on forgiveness. 1 John 4:7-9 resonated more than ever: “Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” When Pastor Tanchi entered the hospital room, he was seized with a surge of compassion he never felt before. And as he sat by the patient’s bed the tears suddenly flowed and inside him, Pastor Tanchi could feel the years of deep hurts and bitterness being replaced by a warm flood of love and forgiveness. And he knew he needed God to make it come to pass.