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Battle of heavyweights: Drilon joins Sotto in challenging VFA termination before SC

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The country cannot continue putting the fate of critical treaties such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which termination has far-reaching consequences, in the hands of “one man.”

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon stressed this on Sunday adding that the Supreme Court should rule on the issue of whether the Senate must both concur on the ratification and termination of treaties entered into by the Philippine government.

He made the remark following the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to abrogate the VFA between the Philippines and the United States.

Drilon said he will join Senate President Vicente Sotto III and other administration senators in filing a petition that will question in the Supreme Court the President’s decision to terminate the VFA without the concurrence of the Senate.

“It is our firm belief that if treaties and international agreements the President entered into cannot be valid without the approval of the Senate, the termination of, or withdrawal from, the same should only be effective with the concurrence of the Senate,” he stressed.

“This will be a bipartisan move to assert the Senate’s role in foreign policy,” the senator from Iloilo said.

He pointed out that while the President is the chief architect of foreign policy, the Constitution “is clear that such a very critical role is shared with Congress, particularly the Senate.”

Drilon said that Sotto relayed to him that he is already preparing the petition and asked him to be a co-author. And Drilon has accepted Sotto’s request.

Since the Constitution is silent on the termination of treaties and international agreement, it is only the Supreme Court that can rule with finality on the issue, he said.

Once ratified and concurred in by the Senate, a treaty or an international agreement becomes part of the law of the land. “Hence, a treaty may not be undone without that shared power that put it into effect,” Drilon added.

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