You are on page 1of 1

BAYAN vs. Zamora G.R. No.

138570 October 10, 2000

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 the US military personnel. To further strengthen their defense and security relationship, the Philippines and the US entered into a Mutual Defense Treaty on August 30, 1951. Under the treaty, the parties agreed to respond to any external armed attack on their territory, armed forces, public vessels and aircraft. In 1991, with the expiration of RP-US Military Bases Agreement, the periodic military exercises between the two countries were held in abeyance. However, the defence and security relationship continued pursuant to the Mutual Defense Treaty. On July 18, 1997 RP and US exchanged notes and discussed, among other things, the possible elements of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). Negotiations by both panels on VFA led to a consolitdated draft text and a series of conferences. Eventually, President Fidel V. Ramos approved the VFA. On October 5, 1998 President Joseph E. Estrada ratified the VFA thru respondent Secretary of Foreign Affairs. On October 6, 1998, the President, acting thru Executive Secretary Zamora officially transmitted to the Senate, the Instrument of Ratification, letter of the President and the VFA for approval. It was approved by the Senate by a 2/3 vote of its members. On June 1, 1999, the VFA officially entered into force after an exchange of notes between Secretary Siazon and US Ambassador Hubbard. The VFA provides for the mechanism for regulating the circumstances and conditions under which US Armed Forces and defense personnel may be present in the Philippines. Hence this petition for certiorari and prohibition, assailing the constitutionality of the VFA and imputing grave abuse of discretion to respondents in ratifying the agreement. ISSUE : Whether or not the VFA is unconstitutional. RULING : Petition is dismissed. The 1987 Philippine Constitution contains two provisions requiring the concurrence of the Senate on treaties or international agreements. Sec. 21 Art. VII, which respondent invokes, reads: No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least 2/3 of all the Members of the Senate. Sec. 25 Art. XVIII provides : After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the RP and the US concerning Military Bases, foreign military bases, troops or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in and when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the Senateby the other contracting state. The first cited provision applies to any form of treaties and international agreements in general with a wide variety of subject matter. All treaties and international agreements entered into by the Philippines, regardless of subject matter, coverage or particular designation requires the concurrence of the Senate to be valid and effective. In contrast, the second cited provision applies to treaties which involve presence of foreign military bases, troops and facilities in the Philippines. Both constitutional provisions share some common ground. The fact that the President referred the VFA to the Senate under Sec. 21 Art. VII, and that Senate extended its concurrence under the same provision is immaterial. Undoubtedly, Sec. 25 Art. XVIII which specifically deals with treaties involving foreign military bases and troops should apply in the instant case. Hence, for VFA to be constitutional it must sufficiently meet the following requisites : a) it must be under a treaty b) the treaty must be duly concurred in by the Senate, and when so required by Congress, ratified by a majority of votes cast by the people in a national referendum c) recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State There is no dispute in the presence of the first two requisites. The third requisite implies that the other contracting party accepts or acknowledges the agreement as a treaty. Moreover, it is inconsequential whether the US treats the VFA only as an executive agreement because, under international law, an executive agreement is as binding as a treaty. They are equally binding obligations upon nations. Therefore, there is indeed marked compliance with the mandate of the constitution. The court also finds that there is no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the executive department as to their power to ratify the VFA.