Dela Rosa to urge Duterte to reconsider visiting US

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FILE PHOTO. President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa (R)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) — Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa thinks the cancellation of his United States visa should not stop President Rodrigo Duterte from visiting the North American country.

Dela Rosa in a media briefing on Friday said he plans to meet with Duterte next week to ask him to reconsider his decision to decline American leader Donald Trump's invitation for him to come to the US together with other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Malacañang has confirmed that the revocation of Dela Rosa's visa was among the reasons for Duterte's refusal to attend the US-ASEAN summit, which is set for the first quarter of this year.

Dela Rosa said he will let the President know he's grateful, but will also appeal for a change of mind.

"Magpasalamat talaga ako. 'Sir hindi ko alam na ganoon mo pala ako kamahal, ganoon mo pala ako kapalangga'," Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: I will really thank him, "Sir I did not know you love me that much."]

"Sir baka pwedeng puntahan mo na yung Amerika, para fair tayo sa lahat, para tingin talaga nila sa ating foreign policy ay neutral at independent. Para hindi sabihin nila na ang foreign policy natin ay tilted lang towards Russia and China," Dela Rosa said, sharing what he plans to tell the President.

[Translation: Sir, maybe you can visit America so we will be fair to everyone, so they will believe that our foreign policy is really neutral and independent. That way, they will not say that our foreign policy is tilted only towards Russia and China.]

Duterte's foreign policy has been characterized as a pivot towards Russia and China and away from the US, a longstanding ally. Panelo on Friday agreed the country's relationship with the US now is "not as warm as before – it's lukewarm."

Dela Rosa earlier announced he has confirmed with the US Embassy reports that his visa was no longer valid. The reason remains unclear, Dela Rosa said, but he acknowledged it may have something to do with alleged extrajudicial killings under his watch as chief of the Philippine National Police from 2016 to 2018.

Reports in December 2019 said the US voided Dela Rosa's visa in line with the 2018 Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, an American law that imposes financial penalties and visa ban sanctions on foreign individuals and entities involved in violations of human rights or religious freedoms, and censorship activities.

Early this month, the US Senate passed a bipartisan resolution calling on Trump to deny US entry to and freeze the assets of Filipino officials involved in drug war killings and the detention of Senator Leila de Lima. De Lima's accusers are also banned from the US by virtue of an amendment passed along with America's 2020 budget – but a list of names has not been officially released.

Malacañang has repeatedly called out the US for interfering with the country's domestic affairs. The Duterte administration has said there are no state-sanctioned killings, and that De Lima's drug charges are being tried by the country's independent courts.