Friends again? US Embassy calls Sen. Bato to fix his cancelled visa

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MANILA – Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Wednesday disclosed that the US Embassy in Manila had called him to fix his cancelled visa following President Duterte’s phone conversation with US President Donald Trump in April.

He said in a TV program that “After mag-usap si Presidente Duterte at si President Trump, tinawagan ako ng US Embassy na asikasuhin ko yung visa ko after the Covid pandemic at magreport na yung mga staff,” (After the phone conversation of President Duterte and President Trump, the US Embassy called me and advised me to have my new visa processed after the Covid pandemic when the staff have already reported for work.)  

The cop turned senator also said he would avail himself of the change of heart of the US government to process his visa.  “Yes I will go to the embassy,” Dela Rosa said.

It could be recalled that in December 2019 the US visa of the senator was revoked by Washington through a letter following its crackdown on human rights violators.  The senator was tagged by the US as architect of the Duterte administration bloody campaign against illegal drugs when he was chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).  Dela Rosa led President Duterte’s war on drugs from July 2016 to April 2018.

Although the letter did not specify the reason for the revocation of his visa, the US has the Asia Reassurance Initiative Law aimed at developing a “long-term strategic vision and a comprehensive, multi-faceted, and principled US policy for Indo-Pacific region.”  The said law also gives power to the US president to “impose targeted financial penalties and visa ban sanctions” to any individual or entity that violates human rights or religious freedoms, or engages in censorship activities.

Also recently, the US Senate had approved the Global Magnitsky Act that imposes the same sanctions specifically on human rights violators anywhere in the world.

As a retaliation, President Duterte gave the US government 30 days to rectify the cancellation of Dela Rosa’s visa lest he would abrogate the two-decade old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which he really did on February 11, 2020.  

However, the Philippine government suspended the termination of the defense agreement following the real and imminent threat posed by the novel coronavirus and the heightened tensions between the US and China and the issues surrounding the South China Sea claim.

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