Santiago gives SC copy of Senate resolution on foreign treaties
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago submitted to the Supreme Court on Tuesday a copy of a proposed resolution expressing the strong sense of the Senate that a treaty or international agreement is invalid or ineffective unless concurred in by the upper chamber.
“This is to respectfully enclose, for the presumable information of the Supreme Court, the copy of Senate Resolution No. 1414,” Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations, said in the letter addressed to Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.
The resolution was signed by 13 senators, including Santiago. The 12 other signatories are Senators Sonny Angara, Pia Cayetano, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Teofisto Guingona III, Lito Lapid, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Serge Osmeña, Koko Pimentel, Ralph Recto, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and Cynthia Villar.
Santiago, who is on medical leave due to stage 4 lung cancer, hopes to sponsor the resolution before the plenary when Congress resumes in July. After a debate, the resolution will be put to a vote. A simple majority of senators present in a quorum is required to adopt a resolution.
The resolution was filed at the Senate as the Supreme Court contemplates on the validity of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the Philippines and the US, which Malacañang claims is merely an executive agreement and thus needs no Senate concurrence.
“The only constitutional ground for the position taken by the Executive is the mere inclusion of the term ‘executive agreement’ as one of items included (on) the list of cases which the Supreme Court has power to decide,” the senators said in the resolution.
The resolution said the Constitution was clear and categorical that Senate concurrence was “absolutely necessary for the validity and effectivity of any treaty, particularly any treaty that promotes for foreign military bases, troops, and facilities, such as the Edca.”
Santiago assailed the Edca as soon as it was signed, saying it was an “unfair surprise” on the part of the Senate, which she said shares the treaty-making power with the President.
“I have argued that such an agreement should first be submitted for concurrence to the Senate,” she said.
She clarified though that the Senate abides by the Supreme Court ruling in the 2005 case of Pimentel v. Office of the Executive Secretary, which declared that the President could not be forced to submit a treaty to the Senate for concurrence.
“By this resolution, the Senate merely takes a definitive stand on the non-negotiable power of the Senate to decide whether a treaty will be valid and effective, depending on Senate concurrence,” Santiago said.
The senator nonetheless claimed that the Palace decision to implement the Edca without Senate concurrence, and to downgrade it for signature not by the two presidents but only by a Cabinet official and the U.S. ambassador in Manila was a “betrayal of a co-equal branch of government.”
“This contretemps does not indicate good faith on the part of the two presidents. The use of guile in diplomacy should be limited to state-to-state situations, and should not include a situation involving only two branches of the same government,” Santiago added. IDL
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