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Duterte told: ‘Mr. President, read 1987 Constitution’

 By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Kami PH

After being told in national television, Senator Panfilo Lacson is now responding to President Rodrigo Duterte to read more the 1987 Constitution.

In his weekly address, Duterte criticized Lacson and said he has “nothing to do” with the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) case.

“Mr. President, read the 1987 Constitution. A senator has something to do with international agreements,” Lacson tweeted Tuesday.

Lacson also cited Section 12 of Article 7 of the country’s Constitution that “no treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred by at least two-thirds of the senators.”

He pointed out a resolution filed by 14 senators maintaining the same two-thirds majority for an international agreement to be terminated.

“That said, there is a pending petition in the SC in this regard and the issue has not been settled. All the more that as a senator, I have something to do with the president’s threat to terminate the VFA if the US doesn’t pay up,” he said in a separate message to reporters.

Lacson noted not even the Chief Executive himself can curtail every citizens’ rights to express their opinions.

“Even an ordinary citizen of this country who feels embarrassed by his harsh, undiplomatic remarks concerning an existing bilateral agreement is guaranteed under the same Constitution to express his views,” Lacson said.

“Not anyone, even he, can curtail that basic right,” he added.

The brickbats came after Lacson addressed the United States that “not all” Filipinos are extortionists who demand payment for the continuation of activities under VFA, a reaction to a pronouncement made by Duterte saying if the U.S. wanted to continue the agreement, they should have to pay.

In Monday’s briefing, Duterte claimed that the Senate had no function in deals such as the VFA since only the president was empowered by the Constitution to decide on foreign relations.

“Senators have no function at all in the matter of agreements here. It is vested in the president, and it does not need any concurrence from Congress. So the power to abrogate the VFA is in me,” he said.

Last December, Duterte said he would continue to abrogate the VFA if the US could not provide the Philippines with its Covid-19 vaccines.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has said the Philippines and the US will iron out its differences over the VFA this month.

The VFA, which took effect in 1999 after the Senate’s ratification, provides a mechanism for visiting American soldiers and serves as the foundation for military exercises and humanitarian work.


RELATED ARTICLE: Philippine Daily Inquirer