Lacson presses SC to rule on international agreements like VFA
MANILA, Philippines— Senator Panfilo Lacson pressed the Supreme Court on Friday to rule soonest on the issue whether or not the President can unilaterally terminate a treaty or a bilateral agreement without consent of the Senate.
“In the absence of a Philippine Supreme Court ruling on the President’s power to unilaterally break a treaty or bilateral agreement like the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement) without the consent of a 2/3 supermajority vote of the members of the Senate, the President can do that without the Senate’s approval or consent,” Lacson said in a statement.
“Having said that, the Supreme Court should act soonest on whether the Senate’s consent is needed before the executive department can terminate a treaty or bilateral agreement – an issue raised in a petition filed before it by members of the Senate,” he said.
In May 2018, opposition senators filed a petition at the SC, seeking to invalidate the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The petitioners— Senators Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Leila De Lima, Risa Hontiveros, and their former colleagues— Antonio Trillanes IV and Bam Aquino— argued that the ICC withdrawal in March 2018 should have been with the concurrence of the Senate.
President Rodrigo Duterte cited the baseless allegations and continued attacks by UN officials over the reported extrajudicial killings in the country as one reason for the withdrawal.
Lacson revived the pending petition in court after Duterte threatened to terminate the VFA between the Philippines and the United States after the latter revoked the U.S. visa of his close ally, Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
Dela Rosa, as then head of the Philippine National Police, was the chief implementor of the government’s brutal war on drugs that resulted in the deaths of thousands of drug suspects.
But Lacson stressed that the VFA is a bilateral accord “that went through some back-and-forth diplomatic discussions prior to ratification by the Senate.”
The US visa, on the other hand, is “conditional authorization UNILATERALLY given to a visiting foreigner which may be granted, canceled or even denied outright, without need for explanation or justification,” the senator said.
Edited by MUF
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