Senators to question VFA abrogation at Supreme Court
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday shrugged off the possibility of losing the upper chamber’s leadership for his decision to question President Rodrigo Duterte’s unilateral termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) before the Supreme Court.
“If [it would cost me the Senate] leadership, that’s OK with me. I have no problem with that,”Sotto told reporters.
Asked if the chamber’s plan to challenge the President’s decision would result in a constitutional crisis, he said: “I don’t think so.”
“If we file a petition challenging the [VFA abrogation], that would result to a head-to-head (confrontation between the legislative and executive branches),”he said.
“We will not file that [kind of] petition. What we will [do] is for the Senate to assert its right,”he stressed.
He said they would simply ask the magistrates to “interpret the Constitution on whether [the President’s action] should pass the Senate or not when an agreement or a treaty is abrogated.”
Sotto said he would be joined by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon, and former Senators Kit Tatad and Rodolfo Biazon as petitioners.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros also played down the possibility of Sotto losing the Senate presidency over the issue, saying the move would actually encourage most of the senators to take a stand.
“This is one of the transcendental issues of foreign affairs and national sovereignty, and the Senate President is leading us in saying that ‘that’s the [territory] of the Senate,’” Hontiveros said.
Sen. Grace Poe likewise expressed her support to the petition to clarify the issue once and for all.
“The [Constitution] is silent on the abrogation. It only says that the Senate has to be able to concur on [the approval]. I think it would be good to have the opinion of the Supreme Court [on this],”Poe said.
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