Dela Rosa denies seeking Duterte's help to 'work out' US visa woes

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2020 07:50 PM | Updated as of Jul 09 2020 11:59 PM

Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa delivers a sponsorship speech in the Senate on June 3, 2020. Albert Calvelo, Senate PRIB

MANILA - Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa on Thursday dismissed talks that he asked President Rodrigo Duterte to lobby for the reinstatement of his cancelled US visa, saying that would be "unbecoming" of a Philippine senator.

Dela Rosa, whose US visa was cancelled in January, earlier said that US embassy officials called him during the Luzon lockdown to notify him that he can re-apply for a visa.

The former police chief-turned-lawmaker said the offer to fix his visa status came after Duterte spoke with US President Donald Trump over the phone.

But when asked if he sought for Duterte's help to solve his visa woes, Dela Rosa said, "Hindi ah. That is unbecoming on my part."

"Hindi ko kinausap si Presidente na i-work out niya na ibalik," he said.

"Senador ka na tapos magmamakaawa ka pa? Kawawa naman ang Pilipinas kung ang senador ng Pilipinas magmamakaawa sa kanila," he said.

Dela Rosa refused to "speculate" why the US decided to reinstate his visa, saying he was not there during the phone call between the two leaders.

The senator - who closely worked with his US counterparts during his career in the police - said that while he "felt bad" with the cancellation of his visa, he does not harbor any ill feelings.

"Normal sa'kin na magtampo. Kasi, despite the fact nung history ko of cooperation with them as a law enforcer, despite sa lahat ng tulong, coordination, ganun ginawa nila sa akin," Dela Rosa said.

"Nagtampo lang ako sandali. Pero, after that wala na," he added.

Dela Rosa said he would wait for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis to wane before going to the US Embassy to settle his visa.

The reason for the cancellation of Dela Rosa's US visa was not disclosed, although he surmised it had something to do with his being the chief implementer of Duterte's war on drugs when he was the national police chief.

The United States had expressed concern over what it viewed as apparent disregard of human rights in the Duterte government's anti-narcotics campaign.

The cancellation of Dela Rosa's US visa prompted Duterte to terminate in February the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement of the Philippines and the United States, which governs the behavior of American troops while in the country. But the abrogation was suspended last month on Manila’s request, citing "political and other developments in the region".