November 9, 2010
Legarda: Senate Duty Bound To Review VFA
Citing the several contentious provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States, Senator Loren Legarda today said that Congress is duty-bound to review the treaty.
Legarda said that the Legislative Oversight Committee on the VFA (LOVFA), which she co-chairs, is compelled to review the treaty to ensure that provisions of the agreement would not be disadvantageous to the country.
"We are mandated to review the VFA and to consider this in the light of the numerous calls for action on reported inequities and legal questions characterizing the agreement. In this regard, we shall ask the Presidential Commission on the VFA to immediately forward to us its comprehensive report on the implementation of the agreement covering the past 11 years," she said.
"We will likewise, request stakeholders concerned to share with us their views toward generating a very comprehensive review that will allow us to come up with a decision that will serve the best interest of the Filipino people," she added.
Legarda also explained that to achieve a genuine fine-tuning, divisive provisions of the agreement must be identified including the issue of jurisdiction on military personnel accused in a criminal case, the kind of activities that the US Military may undertake with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the duration of such exercises, which must only be temporary.
The Senator also noted that the Philippines considered the VFA a treaty and was duly ratified by the Philippine Senate. However, the US did not consider it a treaty and did not send the same to the US Senate for concurrence.
"We need to know how this affects the enforcement of the agreement. We always have to keep in mind that in reviewing the VFA, or any bilateral agreement, we should be guided by two main principles--its constitutionality and the national interest. We have to ensure that the agreement would lead towards the enhancement of the welfare of our people," Legarda concluded.
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