Drilon warns of 'major consequences' if President allowed to unilaterally rescind treaties

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2020 03:57 PM | Updated as of Feb 20 2020 04:54 PM

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MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday warned of "major consequences" if the President is allowed to unilaterally abrogate treaties.

Speaking to ANC's "Headstart," the lawmaker made the warning after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a 2-decade military pact with the United States that governs jurisdiction of American troops present in the Philippines.

"Because if the President is allowed to terminate without the concurrence of the Senate, theoretically, the President can terminate our participation in the UN [United Nations], the President can terminate the ASEAN cooperation agreement, the President can terminate our [agreement with] WTO (World Trade Organization. These has major consequences," he said.

Rescinding treaties, the senator said, should be a shared authority of both the President and Congress going by the "mirror principle."

"Why? Because when the President enters into a treaty, it has to be with concurrence of Congress before it can become effective," he said.

Drilon added, "The process of withdrawal should mirror the process of approval."

To clarify the upper chamber's role in abrogating accords, Senate leaders are planning to file a petition before the Supreme Court.

"The Senate will come up with a unified stand, an official stand, so that the court can see this is the position of a co-equal branch, which should be entitled to respect rather than a mere senator, like Sen. Drilon," he said.

In 2018, Drilon and other minority senators asked the high court to rule on the Senate's role in the executive's decision to pull the Philippines out of the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

This, after the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal launched a preliminary examination against alleged abuses in the President's fight against illegal drugs.

The Supreme Court has yet to decide on the petition.

"If the Supreme Court does not act on anything, does not define the constitutional rights of Senate, it stays as it is," Drilon said.