Recall of VFA abrogation won’t affect senators’ petition at SC — Drilon
MANILA, Philippines — The “sudden” move of the Philippine government to suspend the abrogation of a 20-year military accord with the United States will not affect a petition filed by senators asking the Supreme Court to affirm the chamber’s role in treaty termination, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in a letter dated June 1, informed the US Embassy in Manila that the Philippine government would suspend, for at least six months, the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“This turnaround does not affect the case that we filed before the Supreme Court. The petition we filed is for declaratory relief and mandamus where we asked the Supreme Court to uphold the power of the Senate over treaty termination,” Drilon said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The fact that the VFA is reinstated will not render our case moot and academic. The case stands,” he added.
Drilon was among the senators who personally went to the SC to file a petition for declaratory relief and mandamus before the high court asking it to rule whether or not Senate concurrence is necessary in the termination of a treaty.
Nevertheless, Drilon welcomed the Philippine government’s “sudden policy change” to proceed with its cooperation with its longest military ally, the US.
“The unhampered implementation of the VFA will serve the interest of our country, particularly with regard to the preservation of our rights over parts of the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
“The abrupt abrogation of the VFA last February as initiated by the President – which was done amid the increasing aggressiveness and the bullying of China – is disadvantageous to us. What the country truly needs is a stable foreign policy that promotes our interest,” he added.
It was on February 11 when the Philippines formally pulled out from the military accord through a formal notice of termination to the US Embassy.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the abrogation of the VFA after the US visa of his political ally, Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, was canceled.
VFA, which was ratified by the Senate in 1999, governs the conduct of US troops who take part in military exercises in the Philippines.
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