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Palace to heed SC if it rules for Senate concurrence on VFA termination

/ 12:42 PM February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Friday said it would heed the Supreme Court if it rules that the government needs the concurrence of Senate in abrogating the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Duterte’s decision to unilaterally terminate the key military pact with the US is “final” but conceded that the high court may still has the last say on the issue.

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“Susundin natin. Basta kung ano ang batas yun ang susundin natin (We will follow the Supreme Court. Whatever the law says, we will follow),” Panelo told reporters in Malacañang.

Some senators earlier said they will ask the Supreme Court to define their rights in treaty withdrawal following Duterte’s move to unilaterally terminate the 20-year-old VFA.

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Senator Franklin Drilon warned of “serious consequences” of the executive’s assertion that the President has the sole authority to terminate the VFA. He claimed that in at least 20 concurrences of agreement ratifications, the Senate inserted a clause, which states that pulling out from a treaty “should carry the concurrence of the Senate also.”

Duterte ordered the termination of VFA after the US canceled the visa of his longtime confidant, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who also served as his police chief and oversaw his bloody war on drugs from 2016 to 2018.

The VFA accorded legal status to US troops who were rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.

US President Donald Trump said he is fine with Duterte’s move, adding that the US government would save a lot of money in the termination of the military pact.

“If they would like to do that, that’s fine, we’ll save a lot of money,” Trump said.

Edited by EDV

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TAGS: Defense, EDCA, Malacañang, Military, Mutual Defense Treaty, Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, Salvador Panelo, United States, VFA
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