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Topic

Diplomatic Power

Title

Bayan vs. Zamora

Citation

G.R. No. 138570, October 10, 2000

I.

Facts:
On March 14, 1947, the Philippines and the United States of
America forged a Military Bases Agreement which formalized,
among others, the use of installations in the Philippine territory by
United States military personnel. To further strengthen their defense
and security relationship, the Philippines and the United States
entered into a Mutual Defense Treaty on August 30, 1951.
In view of the impending expiration of the RP-US Military Bases
Agreement in 1991, the Philippines and the United States
negotiated for a possible extension of the military bases agreement.
On September 16, 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the
proposed RP-US Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Security
which, in effect, would have extended the presence of US military
bases in the Philippines.
On July 18, 1997, the United States panel, headed by US Defense
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia Pacific Kurt Campbell, met with
the Philippine panel, headed by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary
Rodolfo Severino Jr., to exchange notes on the complementing
strategic interests of the United States and the Philippines in the
Asia-Pacific region. Both sides discussed, among other things, the
possible elements of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA for brevity).
Thereafter, then President Fidel V. Ramos approved the VFA, which
was respectively signed by public respondent Secretary Siazon and
Unites States Ambassador Thomas Hubbard. On October 5, 1998,
President Joseph E. Estrada, through respondent Secretary of
Foreign Affairs, ratified the VFA. On October 6, 1998, the President,
acting through respondent Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora,
officially transmitted to the Senate of the Philippines, the Instrument
of Ratification, the letter of the President and the VFA, for
concurrence pursuant to Section 21, Article VII of the 1987
Constitution.

II.

Issues:
a. Whether or not petitioners have legal standing as concerned
citizens, taxpayers, or legislators to question the constitutionality
of the VFA
b. Whether the VFA is governed by the provisions of Section 21,
Article VII or of Section 25, Article XVIII of the Constitution
c. Whether or not the Supreme Court has jurisdiction.

III.

Ruling:

For the role of the Senate in relation to treaties is essentially legislative in


character; the Senate, as an independent body possessed of its own
erudite mind, has the prerogative to either accept or reject the proposed
agreement, and whatever action it takes in the exercise of its wide
latitude of discretion, pertains to the wisdom rather than the legality of
the act. In this sense, the Senate partakes a principal, yet delicate, role in
keeping the principles of separation of powers and of checks and balances
alive and vigilantly ensures that these cherished rudiments remain true to
their form in a democratic government such as ours. The Constitution thus
animates, through this treaty-concurring power of the Senate, a healthy
system of checks and balances indispensable toward our nations pursuit
of political maturity and growth. True enough, rudimentary is the principle
that matters pertaining to the wisdom of a legislative act are beyond the
ambit and province of the courts to inquire.
In fine, absent any clear showing of grave abuse of discretion on the part
of respondents, this Court- as the final arbiter of legal controversies and
staunch sentinel of the rights of the people - is then without power to
conduct an incursion and meddle with such affairs purely executive and
legislative in character and nature. For the Constitution no less, maps out
the distinct boundaries and limits the metes and bounds within which
each of the three political branches of government may exercise the
powers exclusively and essentially conferred to it by law.

petitions are hereby DISMISSED.

a. Petitioners failed to show that they have sustained, or are in danger of sustaining
any direct injury as a result of the enforcement of the VFA. As taxpayers,
petitioners have not established that the VFA involves the exercise by Congress
of its taxing or spending powers. On this point, it bears stressing that a taxpayers
suit refers to a case where the act complained of directly involves the illegal
disbursement of public funds derived from taxation.

b. The fact that the President referred the VFA to the Senate under Section 21,
Article VII, and that the Senate extended its concurrence under the same
provision, is immaterial. For in either case, whether under Section 21, Article VII
or Section 25, Article XVIII, the fundamental law is crystalline that the
concurrence of the Senate is mandatory to comply with the strict constitutional
requirements.

c. The fact that the President referred the VFA to the Senate under Section 21,
Article VII, and that the Senate extended its concurrence under the same
provision, is immaterial. For in either case, whether under Section 21, Article VII
or Section 25, Article XVIII, the fundamental law is crystalline that the
concurrence of the Senate is mandatory to comply with the strict constitutional
requirements.