Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque advised President Duterte's administration to work on getting itself invited to a state visit to the United States or he may face regime change engineered by the US.
Roque was on the president's delegation in his recent trip to China where the chief executive announced his "separation" from the US.
Roque pointed out that a state visit now would help show the US that it remains a valued friend and ally of the country.
Roque recalled that former President Joseph Estrada has been saying that his ouster as chief executive was engineered by the US after he turned down a request of the US to stop the all-out war in Mindanao during his term.
"I did relay to Secretary [Perfecto] Yasay that after this trip to Japan, I think we should start preparation for an official state visit to the US. My reason to Secretary Yasay was very pragmatic: unless we pay a state visit to the US, eh baka mamaya the US will take steps to remove President Duterte as chief executive, pursuant to the experience related to us by President Erap that he was deposed because he went against President [Bill] Clinton's advice not to proceed with the all-out war [in Mindanao]," he said. "Well, I think we know enough from world history to know that the Americans have deposed governments."
Roque explained that "a visit to the US now would mean that although we have ceased to be dependent on the US, we wish to continue to be a friend of the US, and I think that is the conviction of the president."
Roque pointed out that the US has a history of engineering regime changes in countries not supportive of the US agenda.
He cited Nicaragua as an example. "Binasa mo na ba yung Nicaragua vs US. Alam mo, etong possibility na itatapon nila ang gubyernong di kaalyado nila, 'di lang ito haka-haka. Naging demandahan pa nga ito sa International Court of Justice (ICJ). Ano naging decsision ng ICJ? Dahil 'di sinusuportahan ng US ang gubyerno sa Nicaragua, binomba nila ang Nicaragua, nagkaroon sila ng overflight, nagkaroon sila ng assassinations, at lahat po yan binigyan ng kumpirmasyon ng ICJ so 'wag po tayong mag isip na haka-haka lang ito, usapang barbero lang ito. Galing kay Presidente Erap, dahil may decision na po ang ICJ na talagang ginawa yan ng US sa bansang Nicaragua."
"Well alam niyo po, sa Nicaragua kasi, sa decision ng ICJ sa Nicaragua, talagang nagkaroon po ng violation ng non-intervention doon sa Nicaragua dahil talagang pinipilit ipabagsak ng gubyerno ng Amerika ang gubyerno ng mga panahong iyon, at nainiwala ako sa kwento ni President Erap. Paulit-ulit niyang ikukuwento yan dahil ang desisyon kaya siya napatanggal daw ay nagalit yung mga Amerikano na sinuway niya yung personal na pakiusap ni President Clinton na itigil yung all-out war laban sa MNLF, MILF nung mga panahon na yun."
Roque believes Duterte should visit the US after it is done with its elections.
"Well, I think the only reason the invitation hasn't been extended is because they are holding their elections. I think US foreign policy is consistent: regardless of who the president is and what his party affiliation is and regardless of who wins, they would want to continue with friendly relations with the Philippines," he said.
"They must be disappointed that we are no longer the foremost supporter of the US. After all, they paid good money when they allegedly purchased us from Spain so I understand the bitter feelings but I think they can deal with the Philippines as a co-equal sovereign."
Roque added, "if the invitation is extended, we should accept it, we should probably solicit an invitation right after the elections if only to stress that we continue to be friends, a friend to the US if only because Filipinos now are the 2nd largest minority in the US and they [Americans] are still our 3rd largest trading partner. "
VISITS AS INDICATORS OF FOREIGN POLICY
Roque explained, the sequence of state visits of a new leader is indicative of his foreign policy.
"Alam mo naman, ang state visits eh what did we say with this state visit? #1 that the Philippine president visited Indonesia after he attended the ASEAN Summit, followed by Brunei, China and Japan. That says that as a matter of foreign policy, we give more importance to our Asian neighbors, not the US.
"Previous presidents made sure that their first state visit was always to the US. Even the mere sequence of foreign travel is indicative of foreign policy of the incumbent president. Although we have given primary importance to our Asian neighbors, a state visit now after Japan would show that after Asia, we value the US next. I think we should."
Roque confirmed that the Philippines, despite being described as an ally and friend of the US, gets nowhere near the amount of assistance the US extends to other allies.
"In fact, that's one reason why I'm against the VFA [Visiting Forces Agreement] and the EDCA [Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement] because these countries did not have to enter into such an agreement, and despite the fact we have welcomed US troops to the country, they have not really been giving us as much aid as it did to other countries."
Roque has been critical of US-Philippine relations and backs Duterte's pivot to an independent foreign policy.