SC affirms constitutionality of VFA
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court has affirmed with finality its decision upholding the constitutionality of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement.
In a two-page resolution, the Court en banc, held that the petitioners led by the Bayang Alyansang Makabayan, former senator Jovito Salonga and lawyer Evalyn Ursua, formerly the counsel of Subic rape victim “Nicole,” failed to raise new arguments that would warrant the Court’s reversal of its ruling issued on February 11, 2009.
In its February 2009 decision penned by now retired Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the VFA as it was “duly concurred in by the Philippine Senate and has been recognized as a treaty by the United States.”
It pointed out that Section 25, Article XVIII, 1987 Constitution provides that “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.”
Thus, the Court ruled that the presence of US soldiers in the country is allowed under the VFA.
“The VFA, which is the instrument agreed upon to provide for the joint RP-US military exercises, is simply an implementing agreement to the main RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty,” the SC said.
Earlier, Salonga and other anti-VFA groups have asked the Court to revisit its decision in light of reports of prolonged US troops stay and their alleged participation in combat
operations against terrorist and Muslim secessionists in Mindanao.
Salonga has accused US soldiers of circumventing the Philippine Constitution and the sovereignty of Filipinos “under the pretext of conducting training exercises, but are actually setting up military position under long-term plans.”