MANILA — The Constitution may have to be amended if the Senate wants to have a say in the abrogation of a treaty, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said on Thursday.
In an interview, Pimentel said the framers of the 1987 Constitution had taken the time to put the provision on the Senate’s participation in the ratification of a treaty but failed to “insert a sentence” for a Senate concurrence on treaty abrogation.
“The question is: was this omission intentional? Malaking bagay yan sa (That’s a big issue in) constitutional law because when you state power and then you intentionally not state power, that means you are withholding that unstated power,” he said following a hearing on Senate Resolution 305 which calls for Senate concurrence in withdrawing from a treaty.
“If we want greater Senate participation in foreign policy, and the Constitution is written this way, therefore we have to amend the Constitution… we need to change the wording,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel, who is also a lawyer, also warned that invoking the “mirror principle” may lead to severe drawbacks in the future.
In legal terms, the mirror principle simply states that the process of withdrawal should “mirror” the process of approval.
“For me, it’s difficult to read in the Constitution what is not written there because if we start reading something which is not written there for this particular case, then how about in the future, we might be reading some other things not there, even those not relating to treaties,” Pimentel said.
He said he does not agree with the notion to ask the Supreme Court for an interpretation of the said provision.
“We cannot force an interpretation out of given wordings, given texts,” he said.
The chair of the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations clarified though that he is only expressing his personal opinion, and assured that he is keeping an open mind on the panel hearings.
He said he will also abide by the decision of the majority when the time comes for him to write the committee report.
Nevertheless, he still believed that with the current wordings in the Constitution, the argument that Senate concurrence in treaty abrogation is necessary faces an uphill battle in the hearings.
“Because you have to prove that it is somehow there, although not written and it is implied, although not clearly there. We keep an open mind, but medyo lamang yung (leading a bit is) there’s no need for Senate concurrence in treaty abrogation because it is not in the Constitution,” Pimentel said. (iamigo/sovereignph.com/PNA)