Senate files SC petition to settle dispute on terminating treaties, int’l agreements

Published March 9, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Can an agreement with another country be ended with a mere “We’re done”?

The Senate seeks to answer this question through a petition to be filed before the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday, March 9, to settle the dispute on whether or not the chamber’s approval is necessary in terminating treaties and international agreements.

Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III (Ali Vicoy / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III (Ali Vicoy / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Senate President Vicente Sotto III is set to personally file the petition in the High Court at noon today along with Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon and Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

“We will ask whether an agreement very difficult to enter into can be revoked by a simple letter. Parang pag aasawa o pagpasok sa anumang kontrata, puede ba ang simpleng (Is it like marriage or entering into any kind of contract when you can just simply say), ‘Ayaw ko na (I’m done with you). Game over’?” Sotto told reporters in a text message Monday morning.

“In cases like these, the Supreme Court is the Oracle we consult,” he added.

The Senate, last March 2, adopted Resolution No. 39 (formerly numbered Resolution No. 337) asking the SC to clarify its constitutional authority over the termination of treaties.

The 1987 Constitution states that no treaties or international agreements shall be valid and effective without the concurrence of the Senate, but it did not provide rules on how to go about the abrogation of such deals.

The petition comes after President Duterte decided last month to terminate the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.

During their plenary debates, Sotto, who sponsored the resolution, said he does not question the Chief Executive’s decision to scrap the VFA, nor his withdrawal of the country’s membership from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2018.

He, however, noted that such unilateral decisions from the executive branch raise a “constitutional issue that seriously affects the country’s legal system as well as the country’s relations in the international community.”

He maintained that the Senate and the executive branch have “shared competencies” in treaty-making.

“Remember, there is no treaty if we do not ratify,” Sotto then said.

He bared that the executive department supports the Senate’s move to seek SC intervention to settle the issue once and for all.