By Maila Ager, February 3, 2020; Philippine Daily Inquirer
Manila, Philippines — A resolution was filed in the Senate on Monday requesting President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his planned revocation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States pending its review by the chamber.
Senate Resolution No. 312 was initiated by Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Senator Panfilo Lacson, and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
Sotto, in a text message, said he expects that “most, if not all” members of the chamber would support the resolution.
“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,” the resolution reads.
“Now, therefore, be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved to express as it hereby 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 with the end view of ensuring the continued safety and security of the Philippines and the Asia Pacific and maintain the existing balance of power within the region,” it added.
Duterte has ordered the VFA’s termination after the US revoked the visa of his close ally, former police chief and now Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
The senators conceded that the President has the sole authority in the country’s external affairs “being the chief architect of the nation’s foreign policy in the conduct of the external affairs of the nation.”
They, however, appealed that the Senate be given first the opportunity to review and assess the impact of the VFA withdrawal before the Philippine government pushes through with its plan.
“Fully recognizing the authority of the Chief Executive and without intending to disrespect a co-equal body, prior to unilaterally terminating the VFA, 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, specifically with regard to intelligence information sharing, military aid and financing, and technical assistance extended by the United States relative to the continuing threats posed by domestic and foreign terrorist groups, and ultimately to the stability and security in the Asia Pacific region,” the resolution states.
“As a policy body, the Senate should likewise give its view and opinion on the repercussions that the said unilateral withdrawal will entail to the existing MTD and the EDCA with the United States of America.”
MTD refers to the Mutual Defense Treaty while EDCA refers to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.