Palace to Lacson: Duterte is a lawyer, he knows constitutional law
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Wednesday clapped back at Senator Panfilo Lacson, saying that President Rodrigo Duterte is a lawyer and must therefore know the country’s constitutional law.
Lacson earlier told the President that he should read the 1987 Constitution, maintaining that a senator “has something to do with international agreements.”
“Hindi lang binasa ng ating Presidente ang ating Saligang Batas, abogado pa po siya. Pumasa po siya ng Bar kung saan isa sa tinanong o subject area para sa examination ay ang constitutional law,” Roque said in an interview.
(The President did not only read the Constitution, he is also a lawyer. He passed the bar examination wherein one of the questions or subject areas is the constitutional law.)
Duterte earlier told Lacson that he or the Senate has nothing to do with the issue of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States since only the President is empowered under the Constitution to decide on the country’s foreign relations.
“Senators have no function at all in the matter of agreements dito. It is vested in the president and it does not need any concurrence from Congress, so the power to abrogate the VFA, nandito sa akin,” the President said.
While Lacson is right that treaties or international agreements need the concurrence of the Senate, Roque said the VFA is not a treaty, according to a Supreme Court decision.
“Ang VFA po ay hindi tratado. Ito ay pagpapatupad lamang ng isang tratado at ang tratado na pinapatupad ng VFA ay ang Mutual Defense Treaty,” the Palace official said.
(The VFA is not a treaty. The treaty being implemented is the Mutual Defense Treaty.)
Roque also said that while there are pending cases before the Supreme Court whether the abrogation of VFA would need the concurrence of the Senate, there is no temporary restraining order against it therefore the President can still abrogate the deal.
“Ang presidente ay pupuwede pong bumitaw sa VFA kahit kailan po,” he said.
(The President can abrogate the VFA anytime.)
“Binasa po ng Presidente ang ating Saligang Batas at napasa pa po niya ang Bar exam kung saan tinanong po ang Saligang Batas bilang isang area of examination,” Roque added.
(The President has read the Constitution. He has passed the bar exam where he was asked about the Constitution.)
Last December, Duterte said he would continue to abrogate the VFA if the US could not provide the Philippines with its Covid-19 vaccines.
He later said the US has to pay if it wants to keep the VFA since “share of responsibility does not come free.”
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