Press Release
May 8, 2012

Senate OKs treaties on legal aid with China, UK

The Senate today adopted on third and final reading two resolutions concurring in the ratification of the treaties entered into by the Philippines with China and the United Kingdom to provide mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

Senate Resolution No. 732 or the "Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Between the Republic of the Philippines and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was adopted with 18 affirmative votes, zero negative vote, zero abstention while Senate Resolution No. 734 or the "Treaty between the Republic of the Philippines and the People's Republic of China concerning Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters," was approved with 19 affirmative votes, zero negative vote, zero abstention.

The two treaties seek to establish measures of "cooperation in the investigation, prosecution and suppression of criminal offenses and in the proceedings related to criminal matters," according to the resolutions. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile lauded the passage of the two resolutions, saying that mutual cooperation among the Philippines, China and the United Kingdom will ensure more protection for Filipinos living in the two countries.

"Passing the treaties on mutual legal assistance between the Philippines, China and the United Kingdom is one positive step towards better bilateral relations. It allows us to move forward in helping each other police our citizens and arrest the proliferation of crime," Enrile said.

Sen. Loren Legarda, sponsor of SRN 732 and SRN 734, underscored the importance of both resolutions, pointing out that the "fight against crime and corruption is not confined within our borders."

"Given the more porous characteristic of our borders, criminals have unscrupulously used our resources in engaging in their affairs, while successfully evading the reach of our laws," Legarda said in her sponsorship speech.

"As these groups and individuals introduce methodical ways of carrying out their crimes, so should governments address these realities by supplementing domestic legislations with unparalleled international cooperation in the areas of criminal prosecution and law enforcement," she added.

According to Legarda, the treaties will provide assistance on areas such as taking the testimony of witnesses, provision of documents and items of evidence, exchange of criminal records, execution of searches and seizures, location and identification of witnesses and tracing and confiscation of proceeds of crimes, as well as freezing of assets.

Also adopted today was Senate Resolution No. 733 which concurs in the ratification of the "Consular Agreement Between The Republic of the Philippines and The People's Republic of China" with 18 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and zero abstention.

In her opening statement during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Legarda, who also sponsored SRN 733, said the Consular Agreement with China was the first consular agreement to be signed by the Philippines after the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations (VCCR) in 1963. Under the measure, she said the Philippines and China will mutually undertake to agree to set up full facilities for the performance of the functions of a consular post and extend privileges and immunities to consular officers and their families.

"It would be enlightening to know more about this Agreement as well as to what extent should it enable the government to effectively promote the third pillar of Philippine foreign policy, the protection and promotion of the rights of Filipinos abroad," Legarda said.

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