The Chief Executive is the sole architect of the country’s foreign policy according to the law, said President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, days after he told the US to pay money if it wants to keep its Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the Philippines.
In a public briefing, Duterte said that under the Constitution, “foreign relations or foreign policy is vested in the President alone.”
“Kung ano ang policy na gusto niya ipalabas for the Philippines, is vested in the President and not with the senators or the Vice President,” said Duterte.
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and VP Leni Robredo previously criticized Duterte’s demand for payment from the US, saying this is “extortion” and may give the impression that the Philippines is a “nation of extortionists.”
The President countered and claimed that Robredo forgets her legal education background “every time she opens her mouth.”
“Being a lawyer, she should know that the Constitution says that, that is my function. It is not their function. At kung ano gusto kong sabihin para sa bayan, may purpose ‘yan. Hindi nila kasi alam, na alam ko noon, na meron tayong binili na armas sa Amerika, it took them years to deliver, practically using the money, our money, for so many years,” he said.
“Dapat alam mo ‘yan, abogado ka. You should not be opening your mouth while we are negotiating. Kasi madaming kasalanan ang Amerika sa atin. Ang pagka-alam mo lang kasi, napunta ka ng Amerika, nagsalita ka doon, you were treated almost as a royalty, tapos ito nangyari ngayon. Kakampi ka [sa kanila] ng walang rason,” he added.
Duterte reiterated that the VP, one of his arch-rivals in politics, can’t be president of the Philippines. He also mentioned that he wasn’t sure if Lacson’s statement was “pretended ignorance.”
“Sabihin ko sayo na you have nothing to do with this. I may accept your comments, but use it in a way … use a language that will promote your person, human being. Hindi ‘yung basta-basta ka na lang magpost-post without really finding out whether you are part of it or not. I’m telling you, you are not. Next time, consult a lawyer in your office,” said Duterte.