February 16, 2009
KIKO CALLS VFA UNCONSTITUTIONAL
Calls on GMA to “preserve whatever respect we have left”
Independent senator and judicial reform advocate Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan reiterated the dissenting opinion of four Supreme Court justices, including Chief Justice Reynato Puno, that the Visiting Forces Agreement is unconstitutional and must therefore be scrapped.
Agreeing to a commentary penned by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, Kiko said, “Supervening events have rendered the VFA unconstitutional. The Medellin case decided by the US Supreme Court has rendered the agreement between the United States and the Philippines seriously flawed and contrary to the Constitution.”
The “Medellin case” refers to a decision made by the United Supreme Court regarding Medillin vs Texas on March 25, 2008, when it held that “a treaty, even if ratified by the United States Senate, is not enforceable as domestic federal law in the United States, unless the US enacts the implementing legislation, or the treaty by its terms is self-executory and ratified by the US Senate as such.”
Since the VFA is not “self-executory” and has not been ratified by the United States Senate, it is not recognized as federal law in the United States. Panganiban writes, “The VFA violates our Constitution because the United States does not recognize and honor it as a treaty the way the Philippines does.”
A lawyer and an ex-oficio member of the Judicial Bar Council, Kiko called on Malacañang to protect the interests of the Philippine republic, saying: “It is now the duty of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to proceed with the termination of the VFA because as head of state her sworn duty is to uphold and defend the Constitution.”
“Their Supreme Court rendered the VFA unconstitutional in the Philippine territory and now they invoke this unconstitutional agreement to keep a convicted rapist out of our reach,” Kiko pointed out. “Have we no self-respect? We shouldn’t be groveling at their feet. The President should terminate the VFA now if we are to preserve whatever respect we have left.”
“Any national leader of a self-respecting nation would do the same given the lopsided circumstances,” Kiko reiterated.