The Philippine government informed the United States government last February 11 that it was terminating the two countries’ Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), after the US cancelled the US visa of former Philippine National Police chief, now Senator, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
The move raised some questions, principally one on the wisdom of ending an agreement that assured American support in case of a military threat to the country. The Americans came in 1898 in the course of the worldwide Spanish-American war, but even after Philippine independence in 1946, the US has been a key part of the Philippine defense posture.
President Duterte won election in May,2016, and declared he would pursue an independent foreign policy, including an alliance with Russia and China. Last February, the Philippine government sent a letter to the US government, through its Manila Embassy, that it was ending the FVA, effective this coming August.
Last Wednesday, June 3, the Philippine government made another unexpected move – Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he had sent the US government, on instruction of President Duterte, announcing the suspension of the Philippine decision to terminate the FVA.
He gave no reasons for the decision, only a statement that “in the vast and swiftly changing circumstances of the world, in the time of pandemic and heightened superpower tensions, a world leader must be of be quickened mind and fast on his feet for the safety of our nation and the peace of the world.” We would appreciate a clearer explanation on how the pandemic and superpower tensions have affected the decision to scrap the VFA.
At the time of the original decision to scrap the FVA in February, the Senate raised another point. The Constitution requires the concurrence of the Senate in any treaty with another country. It is, however, silent on whether the executive can abrogate such a treaty without the same Senate concurrence.
The Senate raised the issue to the Supreme Court on March nd the court ordered the respondents to submit their comments. The President may have changed his mind about the VFA but the case in the SC still stands and should be decided, Sen. Franklin Drilon said.
This second issue of whether the executive can abrogate any international agreement without Senate concurrence must b resolved to clarify a provision of the Constitution.
But the more basic issue is whether we should now end our close ties with the US, starting with the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement. Our ties with the US have been a basic part of all Philippine governments since our independence in 1946.
President Duterte began the cutting process in February 11 but on June 3 , he changed his mind and suspended the original decision to scrap the VFA. A forthright statement should clarify all issues that may be in the minds of some senators or some other officials on this matter of such great national importance.
=”https://news.mb.com.ph//roni-santiago/” rel=””>Roni Santiago
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