By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Vicente Sotto III welcomed on Wednesday the Philippines’ move to suspend the abrogation of its visiting forces agreement (VFA) with the United States.
“[It is a] very good decision,” Sotto said in a text message to the Manila Bulletin.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced on Tuesday night that President Duterte has ordered the suspension of the VFA abrogation “in light of political and other developments in the region.”
Locsin said the government already sent a diplomatic note to the State Department through the US embassy in Manila informing them of the suspension of the VFA termination.
In a separate online interview with reporters, Sotto said the suspension would quell the senators’ concerns over the termination of the VFA with the US and its possible effects, especially during the current national health emergency.
“Sa akin (For me), personally, and perhaps majority of the members of the Senate, it’s a good eventuality, sapagkat hindi tayo nangangamba na ‘yong ating VFA at saka madadamay ‘yong Mutual Defense Treaty at ‘yong iba pang konektado dito ay matitigil na (because we longer have to worry about our VFA and that its impacts to our Mutual Defense Treaty and other matters related to this will not happen anymore),” said the Senate chief.
The Senate, however, will continue with its petition before the Supreme Court regarding what it views as the “arbitrary” move of the President to abrogate the treaty.
Last March, leaders of the Senate went to the SC to settle the dispute on whether or not the chamber’s approval is necessary in terminating treaties and international agreements.
A total of 12 senators supported this move.
“We are still asking the Supreme Court whether an abrogation of the Executive Department must have the concurrence of the Senate, the concurring body. Nandoon pa rin yung question na yun, hindi matatapos ‘yon (The question is still there, it is not yet finished),” Sotto said.
Sotto said he hopes that the SC will act on the Senate’s petition during the period of the suspension.