Press Release
May 3, 2011

Legarda: Treaties Undergo Strict Scrutiny of Senate

"We need not make an interpretation of what may and may not be allowed in our country in terms of foreign military basing. The 1987 Philippine Constitution is clear. It does not allow foreign military bases, troops or facilities in the Philippines except under a treaty concurred in by the Senate, and when the Congress so requires, ratified by the Filipino people in a referendum, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State," Senator Legarda said in reaction to the news reports that suggest the possible re-establishment of US military bases in the country.

Senator Legarda refuses to comment on news reports that the recent visit of US Senators Daniel Inouye and Thad Cochran to the Subic Bay Freeport last week was related to Washington's interest to revive its huge naval facility in Subic.

"As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, prudence dictates that I should, at this point, refrain from reacting on assumptions and speculations fueled by recent visits from US Senators. Sen. Legarda pointed out that all treaties are required by the Constitution to undergo careful review and scrutiny by the Senate, somehow indicating that any military basing arrangements, as suggested by reports, do not fall within the purview of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

"I assure you that the Senate will subject any military basing treaty brought before it under close scrutiny. In the event the executive branch enters into a treaty with any foreign country allowing the basing of its troops in the Philippines, the committee will have to initially pass judgment, and ultimately the Senate as whole, on whether or not to allow military bases within our territory," she explained.

"In 1991, the Senate rejected the extension of a treaty allowing the establishment of a U.S. military base. We will be guided by the arguments that have prevailed in 1991. More importantly, we shall give utmost consideration to the highest purpose of our offices, which is to serve the best interest of the Filipino people," Legarda said.

Legarda, who is also Chair of the Legislative Oversight Committee on the Visiting Forces Agreement, said that her committee is aware of the review being undertaken by the Executive branch on the VFA implementation. "We are awaiting the outcome of this review as inputs to the oversight processes we will undertake at the Senate," Legarda concluded.

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