MANILA -- Senators Panfilo Lacson and Koko Pimentel on Wednesday lauded the position of presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to keep the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and United States.
Lacson, who ran against Marcos in the recent presidential elections, said “there couldn’t be a better move” but to strengthen the Philippines’ alliance not just with the United States but with other nations as well.
“In the advent of the sovereignty and territorial integrity issues fast developing in the West Philippine Sea, there couldn’t be a better move by the incoming administration... than strengthen our alliance not only with the US but with other like-minded developed countries like the European Union, Australia, Japan and Canada," Lacson, chair of the Senate Committee on National Defense, said.
He said this is needed to preserve the peace and stability in the South China Sea, within which is the West Philippine Sea, and the entire Indo-China region.
Pimentel, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also welcomed Marcos' stand on the VFA.
“[It] Must be improved to equalize the treatment of both sides. If one side is visa free, then both sides should be. There are other details that could be improved. Because the contracting parties are supposed to be equal sovereigns,” Pimentel said in a text message.
President Rodrigo Duterte initially sought for the cancellation of the VFA, but later decided to keep it.
Meanwhile, Lacson and Pimentel stressed the importance of giving Marcos a free hand in choosing his Cabinet members.
“I have always been consistent in my position that the choice of Cabinet members is the prerogative of the appointing authority, subject to the time-honored constitutional check and balance through the Commission on Appointments,” Lacson said.
“That is presidential prerogative subject to constitutional process,” Pimentel added.
For the two lawmakers, those already identified as Marcos' pick, so far, “are competent, experienced and qualified individuals who can take on the responsibilities assigned to them.”
Lacson reiterated his appeal to the public to move on and help the incoming administration bring “progress, peace and development” in the country.
But this, he said, should also be coupled with continuous vigilance against any form of possible abuse.
“For our country’s sake, moving on and helping the incoming administration propel our country to progress, peace and development should be the overarching mindset of Filipino people, while being constantly on guard for possible abuses and misdeeds of those who would be clothe with the authority and power that go with their positions of responsibility,” the former national police chief said.