VFA needs top-down audit, Gabriela tells wary Yasay

Tue, 10/04/2016 - 16:43 -- gwp_prop

4 October 2016 - "Gabriela begs to disagree. Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay should know that our nasty history with neocolonial domination by foreign armies give us every reason to subject military treaties to review and modification."

Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Emmi De Jesus said this in reply to statements made by DFA chief Perfecto Yasay to contradict the stand recently made by his principal President Rodrigo Duterte for the need to question the validity of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA.

De Jesus, who joined petitioners in the attempt to have the Supreme Court declare EDCA unconstitutional and also filed an impeachment case against ex-president Benigno Aquino on the premise that EDCA is treasonous, stressed that state bodies mandated to periodically assess these agreements still have to make the reviews that Yasay has dismissed as unneeded.

Fellow Gabriela solon Arlene Brosas said that after the filing of House Resolution 420 urging Congress to support President Duterte's ultimatum on the conduct of US-PH military exercises, the women's sectoral partylist is also mulling to file a resolution calling for the Legislative Oversight Committee on the Visiting Forces Agreement or LOCVFA to convene at the soonest possible time.

"It is urgent that the LOCVFA is convened because of the many overdue issues that have impinged on the country's sovereignty but were stonewalled with official silence by past administrations," she added.

The VFA is often cited as the mother treaty that supercedes EDCA which has been derogated as an "executive agreement." The late Miriam Defensor Santiago filed several measures in the Senate to declare VFA ineffective since the United States own Senate never ratified the treaty.

"We believe VFA and EDCA are not only within the ambit of the DFA to singlehandedly decide on. Congress should exercise its oversight of treaties in the light of repeated conflicts with our national interests," Brosas said.

Brosas cited the legal limbo in the wake of the disputed custody of Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US marine convicted of killing Jennifer Laude while he was stationed in Subic Bay, and the unresolved transgressions made by US forces during the bloody extraction of wanted terror suspects in Mamasapano.