Senators adopt resolution seeking SC ruling on Senate’s abrogation of treaties

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Majority of senators on Monday voted in favour of adopting a resolution asking the Supreme Court to rule whether or not the Senate must concur in the abrogation of a treaty that was previously concurred in by the upper chamber.

Twelve senators voted to adopt Resolution No. 337 sponsored by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III while seven abstained.

No negative vote was cast.

Those who abstained were Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Imee Marcos, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Bong Revilla, Francis “Tol” Tolentino and Cynthia Villar.

The resolution co-sponsored by Senators Panfilo Lacson, Richard Gordon, Majority Leader Migz Zubiri and Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon was supported by Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Risa Hontiveros, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Francis Pangilinan, Joel Villanueva and Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto.

In presenting the resolution on the floor, Sotto emphasized the need to clarify the question of law citing the grey area in the 1987 Constitution on matters concerning the termination of a treaty.

“We want clarity and I hope that once and for all the honourable SC could shed light on this purely question of law,” Sotto said in his speech.

Section 21, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution provides, “no treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.”

On the other hand, Section 25, Article 18 of the 1987 Constitution states, “after the expiration in 1991 of the agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning military bases, foreign military bases, troops or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty, duly concurred in by the Senate and when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

“Although it is clear from the provisions of the 1987 Constitution that the concurrence of at least two-thirds of all the members is necessary for a validity of a treaty or international agreement, there is obviously a lacuna legis or an absence of an explicit provision in the 1987 Constitution as to whether or not the concurrence of the Senate is necessary for the termination of any treaty earlier concurred in by the Body,” Sotto said.

The Senate President further emphasized that the resolution does not seek to question the decision of the Executive to withdraw from the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States government or from being a signatory to the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“The resolution simply seeks to find out if the power to ratify carries with it the power to concur in abrogation,” Sotto said underscoring the Executive’s and the Legislative’s shared competency on treaty-making.

The question being raised, Sotto said, involves an issue of transcendental importance that impacts on the country’s constitutional checks and balances.

“It presents a constitutional issue that seriously affects the country’s legal system as well as the country’s relations with the international community,” he said.

“I respectfully adhere to the rule that the President of the Philippines is the sole representative of our country in foreign affairs and I do not intend to go against the tide. I just want clarity,” said Sotto. SENATE.GOV.PH