By Hannah Torregoza
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday lauded President Duterte’s move to suspend the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the United States and the Philippines.
“This sudden policy change is a welcome development. The unhampered implementation of the VFA will serve the interest of our country, particularly with regard to the preservation of our rights over parts of the West Philippine Sea,” Drilon said.
“The abrupt abrogation of the VFA last February as initiated by the President, which was done amid the increasing aggressiveness and the bullying of China, is disadvantageous to us,” he said.
“What the country truly needs is a stable foreign policy that promotes our interest,” he added.
Case still stands
Drilon said the reversal of the decision on the VFA will not affect the Senate’s resolution challenging the President’s earlier decision to abrogate the treaty before the Supreme Court.
“This turnaround does not affect the case that we filed before the Supreme Court,” Drilon said.
“The petition we filed is for declaratory relief and mandamus where we asked the Supreme Court to uphold the power of the Senate over treaty termination,” the minority leader said.
“The fact that the VFA is reinstated will not render our case moot and academic. The case stands,” he said.
Last March, most senators crossed party lines and adopted a resolution challenging Duterte’s unilateral abrogation of the VFA between the Philippines and the US before the SC.
The resolution, Senate Resolution No. 337, primarily seeks the SC’s interpretation of the law on whether or not the Senate’s concurrence is required to terminate treaties.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III had said the matter regarding the Senate’s concurrence “presents a constitutional issue that seriously affects the country’s legal system as well as the country’s relations with the international community.”
Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara also welcomed the suspension of the VFA abrogation.
“It’s the safer more cautious and considered decision in this time of COVID when it helps to be friends with all nations and given some of the recent developments,” Angara said in a text message to reporters.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, likewise, agreed saying he favors having a VFA at this time, “maybe for another 50 years or until we are economically strong and militarily capable to defend ourselves.”