By Mario Casayuran
Senate leaders said on Friday President Duterte could unilaterally terminate the Philippine-United States Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) without the concurrence of the 24-member Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M, Drilon, a former Senate President, said that he agrees with Malacanang that it could unilaterally terminate the RP-US VFA.
The United States government regards the VFA as a mere executive agreement that does not require approval by the US Senate.
“Three years ago, I tried to pass a Senate Resolution which required Senate concurrence in termination of treaties in general. It was opposed by Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao, and was not passed,’’ Drilon, a former Justice Secretary, said.
“Thus, while Senate ratification was needed to make the VFA valid, (which the Senate did during Erap (Estrada) presidency) it can now be terminated without the concurrence of the Senate,’’ he added.
For his part, Lacson said that in the absence of a Supreme Court ruling on the President’s power to unilaterally break a treaty/bilateral agreement like the VFA without the consent of 2/3 (two thirds) supermajority vote of the Senate, I agree that the President can do that without the Senate’s approval or consent.
“Having said that, the Supreme Court should act on the pending petition filed by a number of senators in this regard,’’ Lacson, chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee, added.
President Duterte escalated his diatribes against the US after it canceled the US visa of his political ally, neophyte Senator Ronald dela Rosa, by threatening to terminate the RP-US VFA.
Dela Rosa was Duterte’s first Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and is known as the architect behind his bloody anti-illegal drug campaign.
Dela Rosa had confirmed news his US visa was canceled, saying Washington officials informed him he could apply for another visa if he wished.