SC denies bid for VFA renegotiation
The Supreme Court has denied a request for a writ of execution of its 2009 ruling ordering a renegotiation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States.
Court spokesperson Theodore Te said the high tribunal, in an en banc meeting, denied for lack of merit the request made by University of the Philippines professor, lawyer Harry Roque.
“The Supreme Court stated the petitioner should file the motion with the court of origin,” said Te in a text message to reporters on Tuesday.
Last month, Roque, who served as a lawyer for former Sen. Jovito Salonga in the Daniel Smith rape case, sought a motion for execution of the high court ruling on Feb. 11, 2009, that ordered a renegotiation of the VFA as to the detention of US military personnel in the Philippines.
In that ruling, the high court affirmed the constitutionality of the VFA but declared agreements made between then Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo and US Ambassador Kristie Kenney on Dec. 19 and 22, 2009, as being “not in accordance with the VFA.”
The Supreme Court then ordered the foreign secretary to “negotiate with the US representatives for an appropriate agreement on detention facilities under Philippine authorities as provided for in Article V, Section 10, of the VFA.”
Reacting to the high tribunal’s ruling yesterday, Roque said he was puzzled by the order that he file his motion with the original court, since the Salonga case was an original petition filed with the Supreme Court.
“It did not originate from a lower court nor was it an original part of the rape case tried before the Makati Regional Trial Court,” said Roque in a statement. He said this meant that the Supreme Court had the sole discretion to hear and rule on his motion.
“As far as we understand the rules of court, nothing bars the court from issuing a writ of execution to enforce a decision that, in the first place, originated solely from its final and executory judgment,” he said.
Roque said he would file a motion for reconsideration “to clarify exactly what the court meant by its pronouncement on our motion.”