Senate may question end of US military pact before Supreme Court: Sotto

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 13 2020 11:24 AM

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Senators may question the executive branch's unilateral termination of a key deal in the Philippines' military alliance with the US, Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto said Thursday. 

Any treaty like the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US that was passed with the approval of lawmakers needs their concurrence too before it can be scrapped, argued Sotto. 

"Malamang by next week, baka mag-file kami ng petition sa Supreme Court mismo," he told radio DZMM.

(It's likely that by next week, we might file a petition before the Supreme Court.) 

Minority senators in 2018 also questioned the administration's withdrawal from the International Criminal Court without Congress concurrence, as the tribunal looked into alleged crimes against humanity in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.

The lawmakers' Supreme Court petition against the ICC withdrawal has been "submitted for resolution" and could cited for the VFA issue, said Sotto. 

The VFA is the legal framework for the presence of US troops on Philippine soil and is central to hundreds of annual, joint military exercises, which are a major component of their deep military ties.

The 22-year-old pact is divisive in the Philippines, with leftist and nationalist critics long arguing it guarantees special treatment for US service members accused of crimes. 

Defenders of the decades-old agreement say ending it could both degrade the Philippines' ability to defend itself and undermine Washington's moves against Beijing's rise, particularly in the disputed South China Sea. With a report from Agence France-Presse

DZMM, Feb. 13, 2020