Drilon thanks Tolentino for making probe on West PHL Sea issues possible

Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon during a continuation of interpellation on July 31 on Senator Francis Tolentino’s July 29 privilege speech thanked the senator from Cavite for being able to open up the discussion on complicated issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea.

“The inquiry which will be conducted by the Committee on Foreign Relations was made possible by the early and timely manifestation of the gentleman,” Senator Drilon said.

“I thanked the gentleman from Cavite for putting forward a number of novel legal theories. Many of which I have heard for the first time after being 50 years of a lawyer. These theories, however – are not settled,” Drilon said.

He said that he is prepared to debate on the propositions of Senator Tolentino on the floor but he added that a committee hearing is best avenue to hear ideas from recognized international law experts.

“In instances such as this, it is best that the validity of such novel theories be tested through a debate, the best avenue to thresh the validity of these propositions is in a committee hearing not on the floor,” he said. “I am interested to hear the thoughts of legal luminaries and recognized experts in international law on the proposition being put forward by the gentleman in his privilege speech.”

He quoted from Senator Tolentino’s July 29 privilege speech, “there is no restriction on either the form or substance of international agreements.”

“Following this proposition, can the President of the Republic enter into an oral or even a written agreement ceding the island of Panay, even if it is contrary to Article I of our Constitution on national territory?” Drilon said.

“If there is no restriction as to form, can multilateral agreements be in the form of an oral agreement? I cannot imagine the difficulty of enforcing a verbal multilateral agreement,” he added. “Can we enter into an agreement that is in conflict with the Constitution, despite the latter being an internal law of fundamental importance if we say there’s no restriction as to the substance of the verbal agreement?”

Drilon added that Tolentino makes a “forceful assertion that matters of foreign policy are within the exclusive and absolute power of the President.”