SENATORS urged President Rodrigo R. Duterte to reconsider a plan before to end an agreement with the US on the deployment of troops and equipment for war games.
Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and Senators Franklin M. Drilon and Senator Panfilo M. Lacson filed a resolution asking the President to instead review several military deals.
They said the Senate should be allowed to review the repercussions of the Philippines’ unilateral withdrawal from the agreement, even as it recognizes the President as the “sole organ and authority in the external affairs of the country.”
“A careful deliberation of these matters must be taken into account before finally arriving at a decision which will ultimately affect not only the security and economy of the Philippines but also that of our neighboring countries in the Asia Pacific region,” according to the resolution.
The Senate wants to review intelligence information sharing, military aid and financing, and technical assistance extended by the United States, the senators said.
Aside from the visiting forces agreement, the Mutual Defense Treaty and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement should also be reviewed, they said.
Mr. Duterte earlier ordered the Justice department to study a plan to end the VFA after the US government canceled a Senate ally’s visa. He also ordered Cabinet members to boycott trips to the US.
The Cabinet cluster will submit a report this week, but other agencies may opt to submit their own impact assessment separately, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said on Sunday.
Senators earlier said Mr. Duterte should end the VFA for reasons “weightier” than the cancelation of Senator Ronald M. de la Rosa’s US visa.
Mr. dela Rosa, a political ally, earlier said the US embassy had canceled his visa. Mr. Duterte’s former police chief led the government’s deadly war on drugs that has killed thousands before he became a senator.
He was also considered to be among those responsible for the detention of Senator Leila M. de Lima, a staunch critic of Mr. Duterte’s anti-illegal drug campaign.
Mr. Duterte has also said he would skip the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Nevada this March.
The presidential palace has said Mr. Duterte had been trying to cut Philippine reliance in the US.
The VFA allows the US government to retain jurisdiction over American soldiers accused of committing crimes in the Philippines, unless the crimes are “of particular importance” to the Southeast Asian nation.
The US Senate last year passed a resolution asking the Philippine government to release Ms. de Lima. It also sought to block the entry and freeze the US assets of officials behind drug-related killings and Ms. de Lima’s “wrongful detention.”
US President Donald Trump also signed into law last year the nation’s 2020 budget, which includes a clause allowing the US secretary of state to ban the entry of Philippine officials behind Ms. de Lima’s detention.
Ms. de Lima has been in jail since February 2017 for drug trafficking.
The Senate foreign relations committee will start reviewing the three defense pacts on Thursday. — Charmaine A. Tadalan