DON’T expect President Benigno Aquino III to make a state visit to Washington anytime soon. Not that he dislikes the idea but it’s a matter of schedule, mostly, we surmise, on the part of the White House, which has to issue an official invitation for that to happen.
President Barack Obama simply has too much on his plate these days to entertain heads of state. Before last Tuesday’s election, he vigorously stumped cross-country for Democratic candidates who appear not to fare well in early election results.
Without waiting for the complete returns, Obama left Nov. 5 to Indonesia where he is expected to deliver a major speech defining his current outreach to Muslims.
He has a soft spot for Indonesia where he spent sometime in his youth there with his American mother married to an Indonesian whom she met while the latter was studying in the U.S.
From Jakarta, Obama will make stops in India, South Korea and Japan.
The Philippines is not in his itinerary, which is not surprising, and no reason for fretting because China, an economic behemoth, is not also in the list.
The Tokyo stopover is a surprise since he is also scheduled to be there the middle of this month for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit which is being hosted by Japan.
At this time, Aquino will meet Obama again, and the tete-a-tete will surely be more than the seven minutes that the two leaders had at the United Nations last September.
Perhaps this time, Aquino can put in a word edgewise about his administration’s plan to “refine” the 12-year-old R.P.-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement.
But is the Philippines ready to tangle with the U.S. on this contentious issue?
Does it have the gumption to talk up abrogation, which is the sense of a Philippine Senate resolution and the battlecry of nationalists?
Not a chance. Not yet anyway. What the Malacañang VFA commission is working on right now is simply a thorough “review” of the agreement which was signed on Feb. 10, 1998.
The panel should by all means strike down a lopsided VFA and make sure that the notorious Daniel Smith rape episode not be repeated.
A new VFA should stipulate absolute Philippine custody over American soldiers who commit a crime in Philippine soil.

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