All Cabinet Members back Duterte on VFA termination: Palace

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 28 2020 04:36 PM | Updated as of Feb 28 2020 06:15 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte presides over the 45th Cabinet meeting at the Malacañang Palace, January 6, 2020. Rey Baniquet, Presidential Photo

MANILA (UPDATE) - The entire Cabinet supports President Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policy, Malacañang said Friday, as it refuted Sen. Panfilo Lacson's claim that some executive officials had apprehensions about the Philippines’ move to terminate its Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States.

“All members of the Cabinet support [President Duterte’s] foreign policy,” Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a message.

Lacson claimed Thursday some Cabinet members were hesitant to contradict the President's decision to abrogate the treaty, which governs the conduct of visiting US troops here. 

“'Yong mga nakausap namin, unanimous naman sila na mayroon silang apprehensions. Minsan na-e-express nila [in Cabinet meetings] pero hindi gano'n kadiin," he said, without naming particular department heads.

(The people we've talked to are unanimous on having apprehensions. Sometimes, they are able to express it in Cabinet meetings, but not really assert it.)

Sought for comment, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the issue is already behind the Cabinet.

“That’s water under the bridge now. The decision has been made. I don't see the President changing his mind about it,” Guevarra told ABS-CBN News.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar meanwhile deferred to Panelo when asked about the matter.

The Philippines formally notified the US of its intent to pull out of the VFA earlier this month even after some analysts and lawmakers warned of its consequences.

Duterte ordered the treaty's termination after the US visa of his long-time ally Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa was canceled for still undisclosed reasons.