Senate working on petition to 'assert' right in cancelation of treaties: Sotto

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 17 2020 06:31 PM

MANILA - Senate leaders are finalizing a petition seeking to "assert" its role in the abrogation of treaties, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Monday, following the Duterte administration's move to withdraw from the Philippines' Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States.

Sotto said he is just "fixing the wordings" on the petition that will be filed before the Supreme Court.

"I want a simple petition asking the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution on whether it should pass the Senate or not when an agreement or a treaty is abrogated," he said.

The petition will be co-authored by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon.

Former Senators Kit Tatad and Rodolfo Biazon will also be listed as petitioners since they sponsored the VFA under the 11th Congress.

On orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, the foreign affairs department on Feb. 11 formally notified the US government it is withdrawing from the VFA, after the world's largest economy canceled the visa of Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, a former police chief who headed the Duterte's bloody war on drugs.

Two years ago, Drilon and other minority senators asked the Supreme Court to rule on the Senate's role in the executive's decision to pull the Philippines out of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The high court has yet to decide on the petition.

"The ruling on the VFA, or even the ruling on the ICC for that matter, will set the rule or will set the standard," Drilon said in a separate interview.

"We support that petition because it has never been settled in our jurisdiction," he said.

Under the law, Senate concurrence is required before the executive can enter into an accord, but it remains unclear if the chamber's approval is needed when withdrawing from treaties.

"The law is silent on the abrogation... So once and for all, not just for the VFA, i think it will be better to clarify it," said Sen. Grace Poe, who also expressed support for the petition.