MANILA - Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Wednesday said President Rodrigo Duterte's move to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States was a "geopolitical blunder and a grievous misstep" that may result in "unsettling" the Philippine government's functions.
De Lima, one of Duterte's outspoken critics, said the President's decision to cancel the military pact with the US is "a stinging slap to the institution of the Senate, which has the shared treaty-making power under the Constitution."
"In Senate Resolution No. 289 in the 17th Congress, which was authored by Sen. Frank Drilon and signed by a significant no. of the senators, including myself, we emphasized that "the principle of checks and balances, historical precedent and practice accepted as law in most jurisdictions require that a termination, withdrawal, abrogation or renunciation of a treaty or international agreement can only be done with the same authority that gave it effect - executive ratification with Senate concurrence," the senator said in a statement.
"Hindi pwedeng pabayaan lang ang isang Pangulo -- lalo pa ang ganitong klaseng panggulo -- to decide all by himself on vital matters like this that impinge on our national life and our standing in the international community," she added.
(We cannot let the president just do as he pleases, especially when he's a nuisance.)
It was De Lima getting support from US officials that drew Duterte's ire, prompting him to cancel VFA.
Duterte had moved to terminate the VFA after Washington canceled the US visa of Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, his former police chief who led the first three months of the deadly drug war.
Some senators earlier said they may ask the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the administration's move to scrap the VFA without seeking approval from the Senate.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said several of his colleagues think the Senate "should have been consulted" before notifying the US about the country's withdrawal from the pact as it "was also asked to agree on its ratification."
On Monday, the Senate passed Resolution 312 urging Duterte to reconsider his decision to terminate the VFA, saying the legislative body needs to review it first.