Miriam wants Congress to terminate RP-US VFA

Friday, August 13, 2010

GMANews.TV - Friday, August 13
Senator Miriam Defensor has filed a joint resolution asking both houses of Congress to terminate the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) because it is supposedly not a valid treaty recognized by the United States.

In a statement, Santiago said that the US does not recognize the VFA as a treaty because its Congress has never ratified the agreement, which the Philippine Congress ratified in 1999.

She said the US President merely "transmitted" to the US Congress the VFA and all other executive agreement.

"The VFA was submitted as a compliance with an American law called the Case-Zablocki Act," the senator said. This US law requires the US President, through the Secretary of State, “to transmit to Congress, the international agreements entered into by the US government … which are not characterized as treaties."

“Thus, the US government does not characterize the VFA as a treaty," Santiago said.

Because of this, the senator said that the Philippine Congress has the "correct authority" to terminate the treaty. "It is within the powers of Congress to unilaterally terminate the VFA through a joint resolution. The executive's role is to give notice of termination to the United States, although the decision itself is one for Congress to make," she said.

"The fatal flaw of the VFA is the failure to specify the period of stay of visiting forces, and the failure to define what are the ‘activities’ that they can engage in while in Philippine national territory. It calls itself a ‘visiting’ agreement, but it has been in force for some 10 years. Its flaws and failures warrant its termination," said Santiago.

In 2009, Senator Francis Pangilinan filed a Senate resolution saying that the VFA violated the country's constitutional provision banning the presence of foreign military bases, troops, or facilities in the country.

Also last year, the Senate adopted Resolution No. 205 which called for the renegotiation of the VFA. But Santiago said that the Department of Foreign Affairs has yet to submit its recommendations to the Senate.

The RP-US agreement provides that it shall remain "in force" until 180 days expire from the date on which either party notifies the other party in writing that it desires to terminate the agreement.—Kimberly Jane T. Tan/JV, GMANews.TV



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