Drilon renews push for Senate to have say in terminating treaties

Published January 29, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hannah Torregoza 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has renewed his push for the passage of a resolution that would assert the role of the Senate in the termination or withdrawal from any treaty entered into by the government.

Sen. Franklin Drilon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Franklin Drilon
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Drilon, in filing Senate Resolution No. 305, said any treaty and international agreement should only be valid and effective upon the concurrence of the Senate.

“The power to bind the Philippines by a treaty and international agreement is vested jointly by the Constitution in the President and the Senate,” Drilon stated in the resolution.

Drilon made the pitch for the passage of the resolution following President Duterte’s threat to abrogate the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States after it canceled the U.S. visa of Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa.

The minority chief said Article VII, Section 21 of the Constitution provides that “no treaty of international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.”

“A treaty or international agreement ratified by the President and concurred in by the Senate becomes part of the law of the land, and may not be undone without the shared power that put it into effect,” the resolution adds.

The senator first filed the resolution during the 17th Congress.

At the time, Drilon, along with 13 other senators, filed Senate Resolution No. 289 that emphasized that the Senate should have a say when a treaty or international agreement concurred in by the Senate is terminated or abrogated.

However, then-neophyte Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao blocked the passage of the resolution.

There were 13 senators who co-authored Drilon’s previous resolution, among them nine incumbent senators, namely Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senators Leila de Lima, Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, and Joel Villanueva.

Even though Drilon’s resolution did not pass, despite having been signed by a majority of the senators then, the Senate adopted succeeding resolutions that explicitly include a provision requiring the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members of the Senate before a treaty concurred in by the upper chamber is terminated.

Drilon recalled that the 17th Congress adopted 20 resolutions concurring in the ratification of or accession to various treaties and international agreements which provide that the “President of the Philippines may, with the concurrence of the Senate, withdraw from the agreement.”

Among the treaties were the Accession to the Protocol of 1988 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, Accession to the Protocol of 1997 Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, the Convention on Cybercrime, Asian Infrastructure Bank, a number of fishing agreements, and the ratification of the Paris Agreement.

Drilon insisted that the sphere of foreign affairs is not within the exclusive powers of the President as held by the Supreme Court in Saguisag v. Executive Secretary.

“The principle of checks and balances, historical precedent and practice accepted as law in most jurisdictions, and the Constitution’s dictate for a shared treaty-making power require that a termination, withdrawal, abrogation, or renunciation of a treaty or international agreement can only be done with the same authority that gave it effect—executive ratification with Senate concurrence,” Drilon emphasized.