Senate has no say - DOJ

February 12, 2020

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday said that the 1987 Constitution does not require the concurrence of the Senate when terminating treaties with other countries.

Guevarra issued the statement when asked to give his comment on the possibility of some senators questioning before the Supreme Court the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Guevarra stressed that while a treaty “is considered part of the law of the land, it does not belong to the class of ordinary statutes that pass through the entire legislative process; i.e., its abrogation is not similar to the repeal of an ordinary statute.”

“Whether the President should at least consult the Senate is manifestly a political question that the Supreme Court will certainly refuse to resolve,” Guevarra said.

Just the other day, the Philippines sent the notice to terminate the VFA to the United States.

Malacañang on Tuesday confirmed that the notice has been signed by Foreign Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin, Jr. and sent to the US government on the same day.

“The President directed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to tell Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin of the Foreign Affairs to send the notice of termination to the US government last night. And the Executive Secretary sent the message to Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, and the latter signed the notice of termination and then sent it to the US government today,” Presidential spokesman Panelo told a press briefing.

According to Panelo, the termination will take effect 180 days from now.

The VFA, signed in 1998, accorded legal status to US troops who were rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.

Hollow pacts

But Guevarra admitted that terminating the VFA with the United States would make similar pacts hollow and useless.

“The termination of the VFA will make the EDCA practically useless and the MDT a hollow agreement,” Guevarra said in a statement to reporters.

He was referring to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty.

But Guevarra, a member of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, expressed optimism that the country could still survive the backlash the termination may bring.

President Duterte’s decision to terminate the VFA was triggered by the cancelation of Sen. Ronald dela Rosa’s United States visa.

Dela Rosa, a former chief of the Philippine National Police before he joined the Senate, is a staunch ally of the President.

Dela Rosa admitted that his U.S. visa had been canceled and was told he can re-apply to secure a visa again.