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Supreme Court affirms ruling on VFA constitutionality

- Edu Punay () - March 3, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed its ruling last year declaring constitutional the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the US.

The SC ruling was questioned at the height of the rape case involving US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who was convicted by a trial court but was later acquitted by the Court of Appeals.

In a two-page resolution, the full Court denied with finality the motion for reconsideration of petitioners led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, former Sen. Jovito Salonga and lawyer Evalyn Ursua, former counsel of Subic rape victim “Nicole.”

The High Court explained that the petitioners failed to raise new arguments that would warrant a reversal of its ruling on the issue on Feb. 11, 2009.

“Acting on the joint motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioners as well as the aforementioned supplement to the motion for reconsideration and supplemental motion for reconsideration, the Court resolved to deny with finality the said motions for reconsideration, as no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision,” it stressed.

“Let entry of judgment be made in due course,” the Court added.

In its February 2009 decision penned by now retired Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the VFA as it was “duly concurred in by the Philippine Senate and has been recognized as a treaty by the United States.”

It pointed out that Section 25, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution provides that “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.”

Thus, the Court ruled that the presence of US soldiers in the country is allowed under the VFA.

“The VFA, which is the instrument agreed upon to provide for the joint RP-US military exercises, is simply an implementing agreement to the main RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty,” the SC said as it noted that the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty of August 30, 1951 was signed and duly ratified with the concurrence of both Congresses of the two countries.

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ADOLFO AZCUNA BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN COURT COURT OF APPEALS EVALYN URSUA HIGH COURT JOVITO SALONGA MARINE LANCE CORPORAL DANIEL SMITH MUTUAL DEFENSE TREATY MUTUAL DEFENSE TREATY OF AUGUST PHILIPPINE SENATE
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