Feb 242013
 

FIFTEENTH CONGRESS OF THE                 )

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES                )

FIRST REGULAR SESSION )

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 17

Introduced by Representative Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III

JOINT RESOLUTION

TERMINATING THE VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT AND DIRECTING THE SECRETARY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO GIVE NOTICE OF TERMINATION TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

WHEREAS, Article II Section 7 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines states that:

 

“The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with       other states, the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination.”

 

WHEREAS, Article XVIII, Section 25 of the Constitution states that:

 

“After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the   Philippines and the United States of America concerning military bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the   Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when   the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the          people in a national         referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”;

 

WHEREAS, there have been various calls from both Houses of Congress, as well as in the public and private sector, seeking for the review of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the United States of America regarding the Treatment of United States Armed Forces Visiting the Philippines or the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States of America;

 

WHEREAS, the lack of the explicit specification of the period of stay of visiting forces from the US and the failure to provide a definition of activities they are allowed to engage in within Philippine territory display the major defects of the VFA;

 

WHEREAS, there is a circumvention of the abovementioned provision of the Constitution through the various activities of the US military which includes combat operations within Philippine territory;

 

WHEREAS, US soldier Reggie Lane was allegedly involved in the shooting of Buyong-Buyong Isnijal, a farmer, in Tuburan, Basilan in 2002, which shows that US forces participated in direct combat operations;

 

WHEREAS, according to witnesses of the massacre in Umapoy Island, Tawi-Tawi on May 25, 2004, at least four (4) American soldiers were part of the raid of joint military and police elements of the Philippines and the US;

 

WHEREAS, Master Sergeant Ron Berg and his team of US Special Forces were alleged to have threatened to shoot anyone who defied their orders on November 30, 2007 in Sulu;

 

WHEREAS, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who was convicted of rape within the Philippines by the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 139 in 2006 but later acquitted by the Court of Appeals, was detained at the US Embassy, an act deemed illegal and not in accordance with the VFA by the Supreme Court in Nicolas v. Romulo (2009), which thus shows the flaw in the VFA in terms of custody of erring American soldiers;

 

WHEREAS, the VFA does not give ample specifications and limits on quantity and identification of US troops allowed to enter the country, which violates the territorial integrity of the Philippines under the Constitution through the lack of power of the government to regulate the entry of foreign military forces;

 

WHEREAS, Article 62 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states that:

 

“A fundamental change of circumstances which has occurred with regard to   those existing at the time of the conclusion of a treaty, and which was not           foreseen by the parties, may not be invoked as a ground for terminating or    withdrawing from the treaty unless:

(a) the existence of those circumstances constituted an essential basis of the        consent of the parties to be bound by the treaty; and

(b) the effect of the change is radically to transform the extent of obligations            still to be performed under the treaty.”;

 

WHEREAS, the fundamental change of circumstance in the case of the VFA is that US armed forces have went beyond military training exercises by participating in actual combat operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines against insurgents, which is tantamount to a violation of the Constitution;

 

WHEREAS, in the cases of BAYAN v. Zamora (2000) and Nicolas v. Romulo (2009), the  Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the VFA, on the ground that it has been recognized as  a treaty by the other contracting state;

 

WHEREAS, the US President, through the US Secretary of State, only transmitted the VFA to the US Senate, not for it concurrence pursuant to their Constitution, but only by virtue of the Case-Zablocki Act of the US;

 

WHEREAS, the decision of the US Supreme Court on Medellín v. Texas (2008) states that while an international treaty may constitute an international commitment, it is not a binding domestic law unless US Congress has enacted measures implementing it or unless the treaty itself is “self-executing”;

 

WHEREAS, the Philippine Congress submits that the VFA is not recognized as a treaty by the US Senate, based on their respective laws, and thus, should be considered invalid and unconstitutional based also on US law;

 

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court rulings in BAYAN v. Zamora and Nicolas v. Romulo saying that the US has recognized the VFA as a treaty,  is contradicted by the language of the US law itself, which refers only to international agreements which are not characterized as treaties;

 

WHEREAS, Article 54(a) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states that “(t)he termination of a treaty or the withdrawal of a party may take place in conformity with the provisions of the treaty”;

 

WHEREAS, Article IX of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the United States of America regarding the Treatment of United States Armed Forces Visiting the Philippines provides that the VFA “shall remain in force until the expiration of 180 days from the date on which either party gives the other party notice in writing that it desires to terminate the agreement”;

 

WHEREAS, the termination of the VFA is within the powers of Congress through a Joint Resolution that provides the due notice of such termination to the other contracting party;

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, by the Senate and House of Representatives in Congress assembled, that the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States should be terminated;

 

RESOLVED FURTHER, that  the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs is hereby directed to give the notice of termination to the United States of America.

 

Adopted,

 

 

 

                                                                                                           LORENZO R. TAÑADA III

           Representative

4th District, Quezon

 

The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on April 22th 2011


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