Senator Richard J. Gordon said that President Rodrigo R. Duterte, being the architect of the country’s foreign policy, has the power to enter into international agreements, such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). However, he pointed out that the reasons for withdrawal from such an agreement must be made clear to the public since it affects national security.
Hence, Gordon noted that the Senate, as representatives of the people, should speak up to find out the reason behind and the safety nets or measures that are going to be set in place to minimize the anticipated downside due to the termination of the VFA.
“I submit to the power of the President to enter into an agreement and have that agreement ratified – that is in the Constitution. But on matters where the national security is concerned, at the very least, the Senate must express its position to the President. ‘Mr. President, we ratified this agreement, we debated it. Now you’re removing it, we want to know why you are removing it? What are we going to do? What are we going to do with our military?'” the senator said.
“Whether or not he cancels, we have to discuss it, we have to educate our people so they will know what’s going on…The Senate should speak up, as representatives of the people, to find out what is the reason. People ought to know, are we being put in a harm’s way, are our troops being put in a harm’s way?” he added.
Gordon also stressed that the national interest should be the only consideration when entering into or withdrawing from international treaties or agreements.
“It is really important for us to really make a determination and to make the decision on the basis of the total security of our people. Protect our people first. We can play with any country but the only consideration should be ano ang kabutihan nito sa Piipinas? What is the good thing that we will get out of this?” he said.