Press Release
May 26, 2006

US-RP anti-terror agreement may need Senate nod -- Drilon

Senate President Franklin Drilon yesterday said that an anti-terrorism agreement between the United States and the Philippines needs approval by the Senate if it calls for the basing of foreign troops in the country.

Drilon said that the Senate would request the submission of a copy of the agreement to determine if it needs the approval of the upper chamber.

"I would like to see a copy of this security agreement before we can draw any conclusion that indeed, it is a basing agreement, which would require ratification by the Senate," Drilon said.

He added that there was no advice from the foreign and defense departments, at least not to the Office of the Senate President, regarding the anti-terror agreement.

"None to my office. I cannot speak for the Committee on Foreign Relations. But it could be a subject of a valid inquiry during the budget deliberations for the budget of the Department of National Defense," Drilon said.

Asked to comment on the initial denial made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that it was behind the abduction of five supporters of former President Joseph Estrada, Drilon denounced it as a "continuing abuse of authority" by the administration.

"We condemn these warrantless arrests and this continuing abuse of authority. In the first place, this is a police matter, why is the ISAFP now conducting operations of this nature in the urban center?" Drilon asked.

"The Armed Forces is supposed to focus on counter-insurgency. The agency on law and order is supposed to be the PNP. Suddenly, the AFP has taken a very active hand particularly the ISAFP. We condemn this abuse of authority," he added.

Drilon explained that the training of the PNP as a civilian agency to handle law and order is different from the outlook and training of the AFP. He warned that it's a very dangerous practice when the AFP performs police functions.

"I call on the CHR (Commission on Human Rights) to be more active. I call on the military ombudsman to be more proactive and take up these matters. Legislative investigations can only do so much," Drilon said.

"At the end of the day, it would have to be concrete action on the part of constitutional agencies like the Commission on Human Rights and the Office of the Ombudsman. I challenge them, show that you are independent."

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