THE SENATE on Monday adopted a resolution asking the Supreme Court to come up with jurisprudence on whether President Rodrigo R. Duterte can end a treaty without Senate concurrence.
Twelve senators voted to adopt the document sponsored by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, while seven abstained.
The move comes after President Duterte on Feb. 11 announced his decision to end a military agreement with the US on the deployment of troops for war games.
The presidential palace has said it doesn’t need to seek permission from the Senate to terminate the two-decade-old visiting forces agreement. The 1987 Constitution is silent on the matter.
The silence is “an issue of transcendental importance that impacts on the country’s constitutional checks and balances,” according to a copy of the resolution.
“It presents a constitutional issue that seriously affects the country’s legal system as well as the country’s relations with the international community,” it added.
Senators Panfilo M. Lacson, Richard J. Gordon, Juan Miguel F. Zubiri and Franklin M. Drilon co-sponsored the document. Other senators who voted to adopt the bill are Juan Edgardo M. Angara, Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel, Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid, Francis N. Pangilinan, Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva and Ralph G. Recto.
The seven senators who abstained — Aquilino L. Pimentel III, Ronald M. dela Rosa, Christopher Lawrence T. Go, Imee R. Marcos, Cynthia A. Villar, Francis N. Tolentino and Ramon B. Revilla, Jr. are all Duterte allies.
Mr. Pimentel, who heads the committee on foreign relations, cited the absence of details in the resolution.
The resolution filed on the same day did not go through the committee on foreign relations, but was referred to the committee on rules.
Mr. Sotto said the resolution might be included in a petition his office would file before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The Philippines on Feb. 11 formally notified the US about its decision to end the VFA. It will take effect after six months.
Mr. Duterte had threatened to end the pact after the US visa of Mr. de la Rosa, his former police chief, was canceled.
President Duterte’s decision could complicate US military interests in the broader Asia-Pacific region as China’s ambitions rise.
Some senators have sought to block the move, arguing Mr. Duterte had no right to unilaterally scrap international pacts the country’s Senate had ratified.
The VFA is important to the overall US-Philippine alliance and sets out rules for US soldiers operating in the Philippines, a former US colony.
Washington has called the relationship “ironclad,” despite Mr. Duterte’s complaints that include allegations of US hypocrisy and ill treatment.
Ending the VFA complicates Washington’s efforts to maintain an Asia-Pacific troop presence amid friction over the presence of US personnel in Japan and South Korea and security concerns about China and North Korea. — Charmaine A. Tadalan