Press Release
May 27, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged the executive branch to submit the newly-signed security agreement between the Philippines and United States to the Senate to enlighten the people about its objectives and contents.

Pimentel said it would be in the best interest of the nation if the new agreement, that aims to bolster the mutual efforts of the two allies in combating terrorism and other security threats, should be scrutinized by the Senate, in its capacity as treaty-ratifying body, the same way its mother accord, the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement, was submitted by Malacañang and reviewed by the Senate.

I think the intention of the new agreement is good to strengthen the fight against terrorism. But if the original agreement, the VFA, was reviewed by the Senate after its signing by the President (Joseph Estrada), why should this one not be passed upon by the Senate? he said.

The new accord was described by defense and foreign affairs officials as part of the Visiting Forces Agreement which governs the conduct of joint Philippine-US military exercises in the country.

They said it will have the effect of broadening the scope of the joint exercises to deal with threats such as terrorism, crime, disasters and epidemics not covered by the Mutual Defense Treaty. But they said it does not provide for basing rights for American military forces.

Noting that the negotiation for the new security agreement was kept under wraps by the executive branch until it was concluded last week, Pimentel said a Senate scrutiny of the agreement is a process that cannot be dispensed with if only to ascertain that it conforms with the Constitution and to allay public apprehension that it may unduly widen the leeway for US intervention in the Philippines.

It is necessary for this agreement to be debated in the Senate so that the people will fully know its implications. Otherwise, the people will be kept in the dark about its contents. They will not realize what advantages or dangers that the agreement will bring. So in my view it is only fair to insist that it be reviewed by the Senate, he said.

Pimentels view conflicts with the assertion of Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz that the new security arrangement is an executive agreement which does not require Senate ratification.

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