MANILA – Decision of Malacanang to cancel the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) does not require the approval of the Senate presidential spokesperson Sal Panelo said Monday.
“As far as we are concerned in the executive, there is no need for a concurrence in the Senate because the Constitution, if it’s clear to them, it’s also clear to us,” Panelo said.
“So we will let the Supreme Court decide if they file the appropriate action in court.”
He however stressed that senators possess the right to bring the matter before the SC, which may provide a final verdict on legal issues.
“If they have any constitutional issue to be raised and they are uncertain of what the Constitution really means, that is the job of the Supreme Court to tell us if they are right or wrong,” added Panelo.
“I understand what they are saying… They feel that the Constitution is clear to them, that not only concurrence, when it comes to treaties, but also abrogation. So, if they bring that issue to the Supreme Court, that’s OK,” said further.
Meanwhile, more senators including pro-admin lawmakers voiced support for a petition asking the SC to decide with finality whether Senate concurrence is needed or not on the issue of President Duterte’s abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
In a Philippine Star report Monday, Senate President Tito Sotto also called the need for the SC to interpret constitutional provisions on treaties and end once and for all the debates on the matter.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday (February 11) announced the termination of a two-decade-old Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States (VFA).
A day after, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper called the decision “unfortunate” and said it would be a move in the wrong direction at a time when Washington and its allies were trying to press China to abide by “international rules of order” in Asia.
The President has recently been at odds with the United States not only on the cancellation of close ally Senator Bato dela Rosa’s US visa but more on the US Senate’s meddling on internal matters like pressing for the release of incarcerated Senator Leila de Lima and softening its stance on Rappler CEO Maria Ressa. (IA/sovereignph.com)
“The Phiippines decided to pull the plug on the troop rotation pact with the former colonial ruler to enable the Philippines to be more independent in its relations with other countries,” Panelo said in an interview earlier.