Press Release
February 11, 2020

Transcript of Interview with Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon

Q: The President says he is really going to terminate the VFA, what will happen to the resolution and the Senate review of the VFA?

SFMD: If the President finally terminates the VFA, there is no sense reviewing it, because what we will review if the VFA has been in fact terminated. And if the VFA is terminated, the EDCA cannot stand alone, because the basis of the EDCA is the VFA, and if the VFA is terminated, the EDCA cannot be effective. If the VFA and EDCA are no longer effective, then the MDT, as mentioned by Sec. Locsin, would be inutile and would serve no purpose.

Q: What do you say to the statements of the President that the told to those who are appealing to him that he won't listen?

SFMD: That is his privilege insofar as the VFA, at this point, is concerned. He has the prerogative. We recognize that. That is why we introduced a resolution in the 17thCongress that expressed the sense of the Senate that the termination of treaties should carry with it the consent of the Senate. A treaty is part of the law of the land. The moment the Senate concurs in the ratification of a treaty, that treaty becomes the law of the land.

In our view, the termination of the treaty, like the repeal of any law, must carry the concurrence of the Senate. In fact, there are about 20 resolutions concurring in the ratification of treaties where the consent of the Senate is specified that must be secured in order to make the termination effective. However, there is a debate as to whether or not that will apply to the VFA because as that time VFA as ratified, there was no such requirement in the ratification.

Q: How will it impact the country?

SFMD: The question raised by a number of our colleagues are at this point, insofar as the military relationship is concerned, are we prepared to stand on our own? Here it is the shortcomings of all the administrations when we failed to prepare adequately our security capability. It is a rule in foreign relations that a foreign policy is always to the benefit of the country that enunciates the policy. In other words, no foreign policy is altruistic in character. It is always to the benefit of the country promulgating it. so, it is up to us to protect our own national interest. At this stage, the view is, our national interest would fall for the continued existence of the VFA. But the President has another view and, at this point, he is the principal actor insofar as foreign relation is concerned and insofar as the VFA is concerned.

Q: Sir, don't you think the President should give due course to those appeals?

SFMD: We can give advice. But the matter of whether or not the President will listen to advice is the prerogative of the President. We cannot do anything. That's a political issue.

Q: Are we ready for the impact?

SFMD: Well, whether of not we are ready for the impact is a matter that the President would have to consider in the course of his decision making. As I said, this is a political decision and he is the political leader. He holds himself responsible for the people for the consequences of the political decision. But, I repeat, this is a decision that he will make - the advice of all others being considered.

Q: On the ABS-CBN franchise, what's your school of thoughts about this?

SFMD: I do not understand it. the ABS-CBN franchise will expire on March 30 and that is barely 50 days from today. I don't think the court can rule on the petition and in 50 days, the issue will become academic if the franchise is not renewed. Now, if the Congress will grant the franchise, it must be Congress which will hear of the arguments of the alleged violation of the existing franchise and take this into account in renewing or not renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN. The jurisdiction is with Congress at this point. At this point, I really could not understand the action of the Solicitor General. I repeat, in 50 days time the issue will become academic if the Congress does not renew the franchise. The court will not rule on an academic question. They will not rule simply for the information of the public. They will rule if it affects the rights of a person or parties and they will rule on this if the franchise is still valid after 50 days. If Congress is not renewing it, there is no sense in the ruling on a legal issue which will just be theoretical and academic. If Congress is going to renew, it is Congress that has the jurisdiction and which should hear the arguments or the grounds for non-renewal of the franchise.

Q: Can the committee be held accountable?

SFMD: No, you cannot hold them accountable. They are not required to act on this recommendation. This is an exercise of a political judgment. The members of Congress are answerable to the people insofar as this is concerned. You cannot even go to court and compel Congress to renew the franchise.

Q: What happens to ABS-CBN after March 30? Can it still operate legally?

SFMD: No, they need a franchise to operate.

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