We wish to set the record straight regarding some points made by Rod Kapunan in his column in the Feb. 20, 2021 issue of the Manila Standard—including his claim that Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson branded as an “extortionist stance” President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that the United States will “have to pay” if they want the Visiting Forces Agreement done.
Senator Lacson already made it clear that he is not questioning the President’s right to ensure that the US fulfills its obligations in the agreement. His point is that the President could have done so in a diplomatic and civil manner, considering the US is a longtime ally and the VFA may affect our long-term national interest and security.
There should be no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding since the last thing we can afford to lose is the balance of power that our allies, including the US, can provide to suit our national interest and territorial integrity.
On the other hand, Art. VII, Sec. 21 of the 1987 Constitution is clear on the participation of senators in voting for or against the ratification of a treaty or an international agreement, which the VFA is. Official records will show that without the 18-5 vote of the Senate on May 27, 1999, the VFA would not have been valid and effective. Also, there is a pending petition in the Supreme Court, seeking a ruling on the need for Senate concurrence in ending treaties such as the VFA.
All that being said, all citizens of this country have the right to express their views on issues, especially those that concern our national interest. No less than our Constitution guarantees that.
We hope this helps clarify matters. Thank you.
Media Relations Officer
Office of Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson