OPINION: Duterte and the US: So, it boils down to a visa issue

Ellen T. Tordesillas

Posted at Oct 24 2016 03:02 AM

President Duterte’s sharing of his experience with “American idiotic arrogance” has lifted part of the veil of mystery about the reason for his intense hostility towards the United States that many are concerned is adversely affecting long-standing Philippine-US relations.
 
In his speech before Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum in Beijing during his three day visit to China (it was there where he announced the Philippines will “separate” from the United States militarily and economically), he related his encounter with immigration officials in Los Angeles  Airport (LAX). 
 
His story: “I was going to Brazil with some of the Congressmen and when we came back - because our entry, port of entry was L.A going there was Miami. You know when I was cleared by Customs, I was going out at the LA LAX airport. Here comes this black guy in uniform also black, with the pistol also black and his shoes was black and I thought that he was somebody - no slur intended that is his original color. And he accosted me and said 'May I see your passport.' So I gave him, it was a diplomatic passport because we were travelling most of the Congressman in my entourage were travelling with passport diplomatic. And he said, “Where is your letter of authority to travel?” And so that was the first time that I say it was missing. And I said with probably because that letter was addressed to the port of entry in South American, which is Brazil and it was not clipped and so probably it was not re-inserted in the passport and it was lost this way. “
 
He continued his narration: “This guy brought me to a room to interrogate me and I said I’m a Congressman of my place, so what do you want to know. I said, if you detain me any further and if there’s a plane available going back to the Philippines now, I’ll be happy to ride and go home. That was the last time I went to America.”
 
The LA airport incident must have happened sometime between 1998 and 2001 when he was a member of the House of Representatives representing the first district of Davao City.
 
He said, “That was the last time I went to America.”
 
Does this  mean the story going around that his U.S. visa was cancelled sometime in 2002 is not true?
 
The version we got was the denial of U.S. visa to Duterte happened after the disappearance  of American treasure hunter Michael Terrence Meiring, rumored to be an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency, from the Davao hospital where he was brought after a bomb exploded in his room at Evergreen Hotel in Davao City on May 16, 2002.
 
In fact, in his presscon upon arrival from China last Oct. 21, Philippine Star’s Edith Regalado asked if his attitude towards the United States has something to do with the Meiring case and if the U.S. has apologized. Duterte’s reply: “It has not really appeased me at all. Binastos tayo ng Amerika. “
 
He related that Americans flashing their FBI badges  “got Meiring out of the hotel. Brought him out  kasi sabi nila dalhin nila sa Makati Medical Center for better medical treatment, facilities, whatever. But what they really did was to fly out Michael Meiring to Singapore and shanghaied him to the United States. "
 
Duterte’s statement that he has not been to the United States after the LA-Brazil incident gives a lie to rumors that prior to the Meiring incident, he and his companion Honeylet Avanceña had often visited to the United States where they had a house.
 
Anyway, what is true is that in that speech in China, he related that many well-to-do Filipinos who want to go to the United States have to endure being “berated” by officials at the U.S. consular office in Davao City.
 
He asked if there was any American in the audience and said, “You’re planning to go to my country you get a visa from where you come from.”
 
The current policy now for Americans is no visa for a 21-day visit to the Philippines. That policy also applies to citizens of countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as a number of countries in Europe.
 
As to the “separation” from the U.S., Duterte said one day after that “It’s not severance of ties. "
 
Duterte told media to be careful and differentiate the word “separate” and “sever” when it comes to diplomatic relations.
 
“The second one is not feasible. Why? The Filipinos in the United States will kill me. That is why I am not going there, not in this lifetime. P.I , inaabuso kasi tayo ng mga walang .... “
                                                
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Blog: www.ellentordesillas.com
E-mail: ellentordesillas@gmail.com
 
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