Drilon warns of ‘major consequences’ if a president is allowed to scrap treaties
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon warned of “major consequences” ahead should the President be allowed to unilaterally withdraw from treaties or international agreements.
Drilon issued the warning as the Senate plans to ask the Supreme Court to “define the rights of the Senate vis à vis the power of the President to unilaterally terminate the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement) or any other treaty.”
“This is a very substantial issue. Why? Because if the President is allowed to terminate without the concurrence of the Senate, theoretically, the President can terminate our participation in the UN, the President can terminate our Asean cooperation agreement, the President can terminate our (agreement under) WTO (World Trade Organization), these have major consequences,” Drilon said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel on Thursday.
“It (termination) should not be only unilateral act of the President but is a shared authority of both the president and Congress,” he pointed out.
On Thursday morning, the Senate will conduct a hearing tackling Senate Resolution 305 which urges the upper chamber to assert its role in treaty termination or withdrawal.
“The hearing this morning is not solely on the VFA but on the matter of the authority of the President to unilaterally terminate an agreement without the participation of the Senate,” Drilon said.
On February 11, 2020, the Philippine government officially informed the US of its intent to terminate the VFA.
This was less than a month after President Duterte threatened to scrap the two-decades-old military accord with the country’s long-time ally due to the visa cancelation of former national police chief and now Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
“If in the ratification we participate, in the withdrawal, we should also participate…you cannot say that the process (of ratification) requires the concurrence of Congress and when you terminate you say No, the president should terminate it alone,” Drilon stressed.
“There is no settled rule as to whether the president can unilaterally terminate a treaty without participation of Congress…this is the issue which we’ll bring to the Supreme Court and the VFA is just incidental here,” he added.
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