"It’s not the end of the world."
So the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard sent notice to Sen. Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa that his visa to their country had been herewith cancelled. And Bato has related this to one and all.
So what, Bato?
It’s not the end of the world if your US visa is cancelled.
Seventeen (perhaps more) of us fellow Filipinos had the same notices given to us by the US Embassy in the year 2006, but we did not cry to the highest heavens about it.
You can’t visit the US of A? Go elsewhere. Why not visit each and every one of our 7,100 islands, at least those where human habitation is possible?
Two senators, one of them still an incumbent; four congressmen; a former president; and a few others associated in one way or the other with these political notables were included in a list of Filipinos whose existing visas to the United States were revoked by way of a terse letter from their embassy along Roxas Boulevard.
The government of the Philippines then under the leadership of Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took no cudgels for any of us. Of course, none of us, to my knowledge, informed media or Malacanang about the “big deal.”
As far as I know, none of us have ever stepped foot on US soil since, except for one—the former president who became mayor of the city upon which the Embassy of the US of A sits beside the bay where the sun sets.
The mayor wanted to watch a Manny Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas, the same fabled city where PRRD is now being invited by impeached Donald the Trump for a US-Asean Summit (kuno!) this March. And the present ambassador of the “forbidden” country must have made representations with Homeland Security to allow the mayor entry into their forbidden land.
He was probably told that once upon a time, another mayor of the city, piqued at the statements of a predecessor in the embassy, ordered the city engineer to dig up the portion of Roxas Boulevard (maybe it was still Dewey Boulevard then, which is how PRRD calls the street to this day) fronting the embassy, preventing ingress and egress.
Ha! I loved that guy. He had guts.
Sadly though, when martial law was proclaimed, he was visiting the US of A, and being a perceived political enemy of Ferdinand Marcos, decided to stay seek asylum, and in Nevada at that, the commercial capital of which is Las Vegas, where Trump hopes ten Asean leaders would come visiting, and perhaps plunk some dollars into its casinos.
Duterte does not gamble, but who knows if Hun Sen or Prayut does? Dagdag-kita rin sa Las Vegas, which our Entertainment City cum POGO, and even Singapore, let alone Macau, have edged out of the distinction of being the “gaming capital” of the world.
If the impeached Donald the Trump (and I hope the Republicans in the Senate get a message from above like Paul of Tarsus and act accordingly) was ever serious about Asean or the Asia-Pacific ever, why should he want to invite our region’s leaders to parley with him in Vegas?
Is Washington DC, the nation’s capital, not the appropriate place for a summit? After all, his toadies on Capitol Hill would have made short shrift of the Nancy Pelosi articles of impeachment by then, di bala? Or even Mar a Lago, his private resort in sunny Florida where he feted Xi Jinping?
Inviting them to Vegas shows just how he rates Asean as third class. And President Duterte was right in declining the invitation, but surely, it should not have been because of Bato’s inability to visit his relatives in the land of milk and honey no longer.
I know one senator who during session breaks visits Europe or other Asian capitals, even if one of his previous relaxation habits before 2006 was to drive an SUV from LA to San Fo, and even beyond, to Oregon and Seattle, past beautiful wine country and forests primeval, not to mention stopping for In and Out burgers. Now no more.
And one political kingpin of a Northeastern province whose favorite meal is a fat slab of Peter Luger’s steak in Brooklyn, New York. Until now he pines for being allowed to visit the US of A only to satisfy his gustatory cravings. To him I say: mag-Mamou or Elbert’s ka na lang!
Pero bilib ka talaga kay Duterte, and this is not a sip-sip statement.
He knows very well Homeland Security would not run afoul of the Magnitsky law finagled as well into the US federal budget and allow Bato entry to the US of A simply because the Philippine President so demanded. And the impeached Donald the Trump would not lift his finger on such a matter in an election year either.
But for purposes of drama, PRRD uses the Bato visa as demand, and throws in the Visiting Forces Agreement into the pot as well!
Now that is earth-shaking. Or should we say, region-shaking for the entire Asia-Pacific geopolitical basin.
All of a sudden, our president discombobulates the balance of power in the region where the South China Sea straddles. Maybe Trump with his current political problems is yet out of mind on the implications of our president’s dare, but both Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon must be having dyslexia.
My friend Babes Romualdez, our ambassador to Washington, must be in edgy, antsy mood, with his secretary Teddy Boy Locsin immediately seconding the President’s unilateral declaration, and even Defense Secretary Del Lorenzana saying it’s all up to the president because abrogation is executive privilege on our part, with the Senate’s role confined only to the ratification of what the Americans themselves treat only as an executive agreement.
Further than this, I cannot comment upon for reasons of diplomacy.
But Bato our senator should console himself with the indisputable fact that several cuisines are much better than American fare. There’s Charolais beef in France or highland Angus from Scotland, even Bistecca alla Fiorentina in Tuscany, or rightly marbled Number 5 grade Matsuzaka. Better yet, Peking Duck in Hong Kong or even Xiao long bao in Taipei!
Anytime, Senator Bato!