In a resolution filed on Monday, 14 senators virtually blocked a Palace move to withdraw from an international agreement to clear the way for the passage of a bill reviving death penalty in the country.
The resolution expressed the sense of the Senate that any move to withdraw from any treaty that had been concurred in by the Senate will not be valid without their concurrence, as stipulated by the Constitution.
Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon said, "This is in recognition of the right of the Senate to participate in the withdrawal of a treaty, because the Senate concurrence is required in the approval of the treaty. A treaty that is approved by the Senate becomes part of the law of the land, and any repeal of any treaty by a withdrawal should also require the concurrence of the Senate," Drilon said.
Drilon said that 14 senators signed Senate Resolution No. 289 titled "Resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that termination of, or withdrawal from, treaties and international agreements concurred in by the Senate shall be valid and effective only upon concurrence by the Senate."
Besides Drilon, those who signed the resolution are Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Minority Leader Ralph Recto, Senators Benigno Aquino IV, Leila De Lima, Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Miguel Zubiri, Gregorio Honasan, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Juan Edgardo Angara and Joel Villanueva.
"The power to bind the Philippines by a treaty and international agreement is vested jointly by the Constitution in the President and the Senate," the resolution said. "A treaty or international agreement ratified by the President and concurred in by the Senate becomes part of the law of the land and may not be undone without the shared power that put it into effect," the resolution added.
Drilon further explained that the resolution is just formalizing the approval on the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) treaty.
"When we ratified the treaty there, we included a provision there that says that any withdrawal should have the Senate concurrence, and that was approved. So we are just reiterating and formalizing the resolution," Drilon said.
According to news reports, Malacañang Palace is now moving for the country's withdrawal from the Second Option Protocol to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which hinders deliberations on the death penalty law.
"Well, that is a legal position that the 14 senators have taken: that any withdrawal from any treaty should require the concurrence of the Senate. But it is argued by those who opposed the death penalty that in fact, the Philippines cannot withdraw from that Second Protocol," Drilon stressed.
Drilon, former justice secretary, said that the Constitution explicitly delegated to the Senate the power to concur any international treaty and agreement entered into by the Executive Department.
"When we concur in a treaty, it becomes part of the law of the land. The concurrence of the Senate is required to make the treaty effective and therefore any withdrawal should have the concurrence of the Senate," Drilon said.
"Let me repeat that a similar provision was already approved by the Senate in the concurrence in the treaty wherein the Philippines agreed to become a member of the AIIB," he added.
Source: interaksyon.com, February 13, 2017
'Death penalty shameful for Catholic Philippines'
A leader of the Catholic Church said it would be shameful for the country to restore the death penalty while the Philippines prepares to mark 500 years of Catholicism.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the Church is in the midst of preparations for the 500th anniversary of the first mass in the country held on March 31, 1521.
Villegas, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) hopes that Catholics will oppose the restoration of capital punishment because it is contrary to their faith.
He, however, rejected suggestions that Church leaders are lobbying Congress against the restoration of the death penatly.
"Church leaders are not Congress lobbyists, that is not our duty," Villegas said in a forum.
"Our duty is to disturb consciences. At the end of the day I hope the Speaker (of the House) will allow a conscience vote on the death penalty," he added. The restoration of capital punishment is a priority of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Villegas also called on Catholics to join the "Walk for Life" event organized by Church lay leaders which will be held on February 18. The march is meant to speak out against extra-judicial killings and the restoration of the death penalty.
Villegas also sought to downplay suggestions that Church leaders are leading a confrontation with the Duterte administration. He said that the Church is always open to "critical collaboration" with the government.
He said that while they may be critical of some of the policies of the administration, Church leaders are also looking at the positive things that the government is doing like fighting corruption and reaching out to the poor.
Villegas also said he saw no need for another Jaime Cardinal Sin to lead the Church. Cardinal Sin, who died in 2005, led the People Power uprising which toppled the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. Villegas said Sin lived in a different time.
Villegas, who was considered a protege of the late cardinal, said it would be unfair for today's Church leaders to be expected to become another Cardinal Sin.
Arroyo can keep House post until death penalty vote: Alvarez
Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can keep her post, at least until congressmen vote on a bill that seeks to restore the death penalty, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Monday.
Arroyo, who abolished capital punishment when she was president, said she would abstain from voting on the measure, which is among President Rodrigo Duterte's priorities.
"Let's wait until after the voting. It's difficult to discuss now because there is no vote yet. For all we know, they might vote in favor and support the President."
Alvarez said the House majority should support administration policies.
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