SENATE approved on Wednesday a resolution concurring with the ratification of a multilateral treaty that regulates international trade in conventional weapons and prevents illegal arms trade. 

With 16 affirmative votes, no negative votes, and six abstentions, Senate Resolution 960, which makes the Philippines a state party to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was passed on third and final reading.

During plenary debates, Senator Ronald “Bato” M. Dela Rosa, a former police chief, noted concerns that the treaty may lead to potential intrusion into the country’s national sovereignty or individual rights to armed defense and domestic gun regulation. 

“We should not be at the mercy of this body as far as procurement of arms for the purposes of our national defense,” he said, abstaining from the vote.

Senator Aquilino Martin “Koko” Pimentel III, who chairs the foreign affairs committee and the primary sponsor of the resolution, clarified that a country’s sovereignty will not be ceded, in whole or in part, as the treaty terms only require proper reportorial cooperation and compliance.

“This ATT, as I understand, requires us to report certain facts and figures concerning trade in arms so that the international body, treaty secretariat, can monitor figures, possibly detect some worrisome figures compared to other reports,” Mr. Pimentel said, “so that they will be able to warn or point out to state parties possible illicit trade in conventional weapons.” 

Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” N. Hontiveros-Baraquel, among those who approved the resolution, said the treaty would contribute to “responsibility, accountability, and transparency of weapons trade” as it would enhance regulation. 

It also ensures that weapons “will not fall in the wrong hands,” and that the country’s arms manufacturers remain legitimate, she added. 

Illegal arms trade is linked to terrorist activities and armed rebellion. 

The Arms Trade Treaty came into force on Dec. 24, 2014. More than 100 states have ratified the agreement while more than 30 have signed but yet to ratify. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan