Senate might elevate VFA termination to Supreme Court
Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday said that the upper chamber has set itself on raising the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States to the Supreme Court.
After Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced that he has signed and forwarded the notice to scrap the VFA, Sotto said the Senate might elevate the decision to the Supreme Court.
"Yes, why not? So that we will be able to once and for all find out whether the provisions that we include in the new resolutions that we passed is correct, right?" Sotto told the reporters after a plenary session.
Sotto argued that the concurrence of the upper chamber, upon its assessment of the termination of VFA, should have been considered before making a final decision.
This is highlighted in Senate Resolution No. 312 adopted on Monday which stated: "a careful deliberation of these matters must be taken into account before finally arriving at a decision which will ultimately affect not only the security and economy of the Philippines but also that of our neighboring countries in the Asia Pacific region."
Sotto said he is inclined to the idea of seeking the Supreme Court's decision on the matter defending that "a review is proper."
The Senate, however, cannot reverse the withdrawal. However, Sotto noted that they still have 180 days after the receipt of notice from Washington to make an appeal to the higher court.
"(A)t this point we will not directly put a halt on the termination but we will look into the intent of the Resolution 305 first," he said.
"Resolution 305 says that we should be not only consulted, but we should also be asked to agreee with a termination because we were asked to agree on ratification," he added.
Senator Richard Gordon aired the same sentiments during the session.
"It is not the absolute prerogative of the president to cancel the VFA. The prevailing view is that it is a political question... The Supreme Court has the duty (to address it)," said Gordon.
President Rodrigo Duterte last month has ordered the termination of VFA between the Philippines and United States after the latter has terminated the visa of Senator Ronald dela Rosa. Cristina Eloisa Baclig/DMS