MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte asking the US to "pay" if it wants to keep the Visiting Forces Agreement may give the impression that the Philippines is a "nation of extortionists," Senator Panfilo Lacson said Sunday.
Lacson said a diplomatic approach would be more effective in ensuring the US would uphold its end of the agreement.
"The President may have used strong words to send his message across to the US. But certainly, there is a more civil and statesmanlike manner to ask for compensation from a longtime ally using the usual diplomatic channels and still get the same desired results," Lacson said in a statement.
In a now-deleted tweet, Lacson had said the President should "at least give the other party an elbow room to save face instead of looking bullied and stripped of dignity."
“I decided to take it down after giving it a thought that the President’s intention was to get a fair shake of the agreement, only he could have said it in a more diplomatic way. On crucial issues such as this, there should be no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding moving forward,” he said.
Lacson, chairperson of the Senate Committee on National Defense, earlier also called out Duterte for being "threatening" towards the US in exchange for COVID-19 vaccines.
Duterte last year unilaterally canceled the two-decade-old VFA, in an angry response to an ally being denied a visa. The withdrawal period has been twice extended to create what Philippine officials have said is a window for better terms to be agreed.