Gov’t urged to extend suspension of VFA abrogation
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker has asked the national government to extend the suspension of its planned abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to give an “elbow room” for a possible renegotiation, depending on the outcome of the US presidential elections.
“Kung gusto natin ng elbow room, an extension of the suspension would be the choice given na mayroong possibility ng bagong administration na papasok sa America,” said Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon, vice-chairperson of the House committee on national defense and security, during an interview with ONE News’ Agenda on Tuesday.
“Kung ie-extend lang natin ‘yong suspension, then we have the elbow room whether to, later on, push through with the termination or baka itong period na ito na magkaroon ng elections, it would become an opportunity for the Philippines to negotiate for terms that it deems better,” he also said.
The United States is all set for a presidential election on November 4, Manila time (November 3 in the US).
According to Biazon, a possible change in leadership in the US may mean a change in its foreign policy, which could help the Philippines in the event that the latter pushes for a renegotiation of the military deal.
Also, the congressman said extending the suspension of VFA’s abrogation would give the Supreme Court more time to act on the petition filed by the Senate asking the high court to affirm the upper chamber’s power requiring its concurrence in the termination of treaties.
Nonetheless, Biazon expressed the belief that the Senate’s concurrence was not needed in the cancellation of VFA.
“Mayroong school of thought na sinasabi na para umalis ang presidente sa isang treaty, kinakailangan din ‘yang i-ratify ng Senado,” he said.
“But there is also a school of thought na sinasabing hindi kailangan, kasi sa Constitution naman natin, the Constitution is silent with regard to Senate concurrence or ratification upon exit of a treaty. Pero kung iisipin natin ‘yong legal arguments on it, ako, I am of the mindset na hindi kailangan ng Senate [concurrence],” he added.
On January 23, President Rodrigo Duterte gave the US government 30 days to rectify the visa cancellation of his political ally, Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, or he would discontinue the two-decade-old military accord.
The Philippines officially pulled out from the defense agreement on February 11.
But Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., upon the order of the President, suspended the revocation of the VFA.
The suspension will only be effective for six months from June 1 and will be “extendible by the Philippines for another six months.”
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