MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday maintained that the fate of the scrapped Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States lies in the hands of the Supreme Court (SC).
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the SC has the final say on President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent decision to abrogate VFA, a 1998 military pact that stipulates conditions for US troops who visit the Philippines.
“Then we will let the Supreme Court decide on that,” Panelo told Palace reporters. “Let’s wait for the Supreme Court to resolve it. It’s a legal issue, a constitutional issue of that.”
He issued the statement in response to senators’ move on Monday to adopt a resolution seeking SC’s clarification on whether the Senate’s concurrence is needed before Duterte can terminate VFA.
Senate Resolution 337, sponsored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, was adopted Monday by 12 senators. Only seven senators abstained.
Sotto on Monday said the resolution “simply seeks to find out if the power to ratify carries with it the power to concur in abrogation.”
The VFA permits American forces to visit the Philippines sans passport and visa to allow them to take part in joint military drills in the host country.
Duterte has ordered the revocation of VFA after the US cancelled the visa of his staunch ally, erstwhile police chief and now Senator Ronald dela Rosa.
The Philippines’ formal notice of termination of the 22-year-old military accord was sent to the US on February 11.
The military deal is deemed terminated 180 days after Manila sent a termination notice to Washington.
Panelo earlier guaranteed that the Palace would heed SC in case the high court rules that the termination of VFA needs prior consent from the Senate. (PNA)