Senate leaders set to contest VFA abrogation before SC
MANILA, Philippines – Senate leaders are planning to question before the Supreme Court next week the country’s abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States without the concurrence of the upper chamber.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said they would probably file a petition for mandamus and another petition for certiorari.
“The forthcoming (petitions), if ever, will depend on who else will join. At the moment, I, Frank, Dick, and Ping are interested,” Sotto said in a text message on Thursday, referring to Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Richard Gordon and Panfilo Lacson.
Gordon chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice panels while Lacson chairs the committees on national defense and accounts.
Sotto first revealed this plan in an interview on DZMM, citing studies, which he said showed that the withdrawal of any treaty or agreement should have the concurrence of the Senate in accordance with its own rules and as provided for in the Constitution.
“Apparently ang dating sa amin ngayon nito after the studies that I will probably review later e magpa file kami ng panibagong petition na concerning VFA kung ano ang basa ng Supreme Court dito sa abrogation na ito,” Sotto said in an interview over DZMM.
(Apparently, it appears to us now after the studies that I will probably review later that we will file a new petition concerning VFA to find out the Supreme Court’s reading on this abrogation)
“Kung ito ay kailangan ng concurrence ng Senado o hindi once and for all. Pero sa amin, sa pag aaral namin sa rules namin lumalabas na kailangang mayroon concurrence namin,” he said.
(If this needs the concurrence of the Senate or not, once and for all. But our position based on our study of our rules, it appears that this needs our concurrence)
The required concurrence of the Senate in abrogating a treat, he said, was also provided in the Constitution.
“As far as we’re concerned based on the Constitution ay sinasabi sa atin na dapat dumadaan sa Senado,” the Senate leader said.
(As far as we’re concerned based on the Constitution, it says that this should go through the Senate)
Asked when the Senate plans to bring the issue before the Supreme Court, Sotto said: Malamang baka by next week baka mag file kami ng petition dun sa Supreme Court mismo.”
(Maybe next week we can file the petition at the Supreme Court)
On President Rodrigo Duterte’s order, the Philippine government on Tuesday sent a notice of termination of the VFA to the US.
It will take effect 180 days after receipt of the notice.
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