Senators' resolution urges Duterte to reconsider VFA termination
Senate President Tito Sotto and Sen. Panfilo Lacson have filed a resolution recommending President Rodrigo Duterte not to terminate the country's Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States.
Senate PRIB
Senators' resolution urges Duterte to reconsider VFA termination
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - February 3, 2020 - 4:17pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 4:44 p.m.) — Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, Sen. Panfilo Lacson appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his decision to terminate the Philippines' Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, at least until the Senate has time to review the impact of withdrawing from the agreement.

Duterte on January 23 said he would abrogate the deal if the US does not "correct" the cancelation of Sen. Ronald dela Rosa's visa within a month. The president later said that he had already decided on terminating the agreement when he said that.

According to a report on radio dwIZ, Sotto and Lacson filed Senate Resolution 312 recommending to the president not to terminate the VFA but a copy of the resolution posted by News5 shows Drilon as a co-author.

The resolution, which the Senate has yet to vote on, expresses the "sense of the Senate to earnestly request the president to reconsider his planned abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement in the meantime that the Senate is conducting a review and impact assessment in view od ensuring the continued safety and security of the Philippines and the Asia Pacific and maintaining the existing balance power in the region."

The senators said that they recognize the president's authority to terminate treaties and agreements but said in the resolution that "the Senate should be given the opportunity to conduct a review and assessment of the impact of the withdrawal on the country's security and economy."

A simple resolution expresses the position of a chamber of Congress but does not have the strength of law and the president is not bound to listen to it. Sotto, though, is an administration ally and leader of the administration's supermajority at the Senate.

Sotto earlier said he and Lacson would file the resolution but clarified that they are not preempting the president on his decision.

The Senate leader said most of his colleages in the upper chamber of Congress are not in favor of terminating the agreement with the US.

Drilon is leader of the much smaller minority minority bloc at the Senate.

Senate panel plans review of VFA, other agreements

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III earlier said the Senate foreign relations' commitee hearing would also cover the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, along with the VFA.

Malacañang insisted that Duterte's decision to end the VFA with the US was a studied response and not made on a whim.

According to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, the cancellation of Dela Rosa's US visa was just the last straw.

"It's not a decision on a whim.

It is a studied response to acts that the president deems to be not only an intrusion but an assault to the sovereignty of this country," Panelo last week. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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