The senior vice chairman of the House Committee on National Defense on Monday urged President Duterte to further extend the suspension of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and make the decision on the issue when the dust of Wednesday’s US elections has finally settled.
Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon said taking time to conduct a further study of the results of the presidential election between incumbent President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden is the best option for Duterte.
He said extending the suspension of the abrogation of the US-Philippine agreement will give Duterte enough “elbow room” for a possible renegotiation of the terms of the pact.
Biazon said there is a big possibility that there will be a change in administration of the US government, with Biden being given by experts a big edge in winning the elections on November 4 (November 3 in the US).
Government’s decision to abrogate the VFA has been suspended until December.
In a television interview, Biazon said a new White House administration may mean a change in the United States’ foreign policy and extending the extension on the suspension of the VFA’s abrogation would give the Philippines an opportunity to negotiate for better terms in the agreement.
Moreover, the lawmaker said extending the suspension would also allow time for the Supreme Court (SC) to act on the petition filed by the Philippine Senate to compel President Duterte to seek the Senate’s concurrence in terminating the VFA.
According to Biazon the High Court has yet to act on a petition for declaratory relief with mandamus filed by senators.
The petitioners have asked the court to “issue an order directing respondents to forthwith refer to the Notice of Withdrawal to the Senate of the Philippine for its concurrence pursuant to Section 21, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution.”
The senators also said the SC should “render a decision declaring that the withdrawal from or termination of a treaty or international agreement that had previously been concurred in by the Senate requires the concurrence of two thirds of all the members of the Senate for the said withdrawal or termination to be valid and effective.”
Biazon aired the belief that there is no longer a need for the Senate to concur on whether or not government decides to abrogate the VFA.
He pointed out that while the Constitution provides Senate ratification of an international treaty or agreement entered into by government, it is silent on whether or not senators should be consulted in case of abrogation.