MANILA — The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and United States can be revoked by President Rodrigo Duterte even without the Senate approval or consent, said some senators.
“President Rodrigo Duterte can do that without the Senate’s approval or consent 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 without the consent of a 2/3 supermajority vote of the members of the Senate,” said Senator Panfilo Lacson.
Lacson said 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.
The President threatened to cancel the VFA after the US visa of former police chief now Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa was voided.
Lacson said the VFA between the Philippines and United States is a bilateral accord that went through some back-and-forth diplomatic discussions prior to ratification by the Senate, after some intense plenary deliberation.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel said the VFA can be done by the President as the chief implementor of the country’s foreign policy and secondarily as the commander-in-chief of the Armes Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Pimentel admitted that the reason cited by the President for terminating the PH-US VFA may sound “personal.”
“But I see the point of the President. He believes Senator Bato is being punished by the US for having once been the implementor of his main program of government – the all-out war against drugs. “
“Since that is domestic policy, then punishing someone (even if indirectly) for a domestic policy shows the intent to interfere by a foreign state with PH’s domestic policy,” said Pimentel.
Pimentel said the VFA agreement should always be subject to review. (SA/IA/Curentph.com)