Sotto: Executive officials back move to bring treaty termination to SC

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    SENATE President Vicente Sotto III yesterday said officials of the executive department are “amenable” to the Senate move seeking clarification from the Supreme Court (SC) on the role of the Senate in the termination of international agreements.

    Sotto said he “had a talk with the executive department and they are amenable to (Senate Resolution No. 337).”

    Sotto said the executive officials, like senators, wanted to be clarified on the issue.

    Sotto said SRN 337 was “generic” in nature as it did not only focus on the abrogation of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement which was ordered terminated by President Duterte after the US cancelled the visa of Sen. Ronald dela Rosa.

    Sotto said he does not have information if the President knew of the sentiments of his officials.

    The Senate on Monday afternoon adopted SRN 337, with 12 senators voting in favor, none against, and seven abstention.

    Dela Rosa, one of the seven who abstained, turned emotional after the majority bloc in which he belongs, did not get the majority vote to abstain in the adoption of the resolution.

    While Dela Rosa said that each senator has an independent mind, he said that being in the majority bloc, he expected that senators in the bloc will vote as one.

    “Ang ine-expect ko talaga, you go with us. Sinabi nga may kanya-kanya tayong pag-iisip pero sabi nga sa political side of it, majority against minority, dapat majority laging mananalo, but we are not able to get the majority votes. Meaning, kami na ang minority dito sa Senado, hindi na kami majority (I was expecting that you go with us. While there is a saying that says that each senator has his or her own mind, but the political side of it, what happened was majority against minority. It should be that the majority always wins against the minority. But we were not able to get the majority votes, meaning we are now in the minority, we are no longer the majority),” he said.

    The Senate only has three minority members of the minority – Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros. Sen. Leila de Lima, who also belongs to the minority, has not been able to cast her vote on any issue discussed in the Senate since her detention for illegal drugs charges.

    Dela Rosa said he opted to abstain from voting in favor of the adoption of the resolution because he believes that the abrogation of treaties is the sole role of the President.

    Reacting to Dela Rosa’s statement, Sotto said the majority bloc does not always get what it wants.

    “Hindi naman tamang thinking ‘yun(That is a wrong notion.) Perhaps later on he will realize that being a senator is different than being just a follower of the administration,” Sotto said.

    Sotto said he can only surmise that the seven senators who abstained “probably did not want to offend the President.”

    Sen. Panfilo Lacson said senators should vote on issues based on conscience and “not because of blind loyalty to any person or party.”

    “While loyalty is a virtue, blind loyalty is simply just that – blind,” Lacson said.