Drilon files resolution asserting Senate’s role in treaty termination

Robie de Guzman

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and United States Armed Forces successfully completed an amphibious landing exercise as part of the annual Balikatan (BK) Exercise, 09 May 2018. (Photos by PFC Diego A Mariano/PAOAFP and NPAO)

MANILA, Philippines – Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said he has filed a resolution asserting Senate’s role in the termination or withdrawal of a treaty, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to end the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States.

In filing Senate Resolution 305, Drilon said in a statement that the termination or withdrawal of any treaty and international agreement should only be valid and effective upon concurrence of the Senate.

He cited Article VII, Section 21 of the Constitution which provides, that “no treaty of international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.”

“The power to bind the Philippines by a treaty and international agreement is vested jointly by the Constitution in the President and the Senate,” the resolution stated.

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

Drilon also said that the sphere of foreign affairs is not within the exclusive powers of the President as held by the Supreme Court in Saguisag v. Executive Secretary (G.R. No. 212426, January 12, 2016).

“The principle of checks and balances, historical precedent and practice accepted as law in most jurisdictions, and the Constitution’s dictate for a shared treaty-making power require that a termination, withdrawal, abrogation or renunciation of a treaty or international agreement can only be done with the same authority that gave it effect – executive ratification with Senate concurrence,” he stressed in the resolution.

Drilon, along with 13 senators, first filed the resolution during the 17th Congress in 2017, stressing that the Senate should have a say when a treaty or international agreements concurred in by the upper chamber is terminated or abrogated.

Then neophyte Senator Manny Pacquiao, however, blocked its passage.

While the resolution did not pass, Drilon said that succeeding resolutions adopted by the Senate explicitly provides for provision requiring the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members of the Senate before a treaty concurred in by the Senate is terminated.

“The 17th Congress adopted 20 resolutions concurring in the ratification of or accession to various treaties and international agreements which provides “that the President of the Philippines may, with the concurrence of the Senate, withdraw from the Agreement,” the resolution stated.

These treaties include the Accession to the Protocol of 1988 International Convention for the Safety of Life At Sea, Accession to the Protocol of 1997 Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, the Convention on Cybercrime, Asian Infrastructure Bank, a number of fishing agreement and ratification of the Paris Agreement.

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