Press Release
January 26, 2022

Senate OKs ratification of treaty vs. illegal weapons trade

Voting 16-0-6, the Senate passed Wednesday, January 26, 2022, a resolution concurring in the Philippines' ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), taking part in the global efforts to eradicate illicit weapons trade.

Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said the ATT establishes common international standards for regulating international trade of conventional arms, and in effect addressing the illegal trade in conventional arms and preventing their diversion into the wrong hands.

The agreement was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on April 2, 2013, with over 100 state parties at present. The Philippines signed the treaty in 2013, the first country in Southeast Asia to do so, Pimentel noted.

"Supporting the ATT is consistent with the Philippines' policy of championing and leading global efforts on peace and disarmament," Pimentel said in his sponsorship speech on Senate Resolution No. 960.

The 1987 Constitution requires the vote of at least two-thirds of all members of the Senate for treaties and international agreements to be valid and effective.

Senate President Pro Tempore Recto, Majority Leader Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri, and Sens. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, Christopher "Bong" Go, Grace Poe and Francis "Tol" Tolentino abstained on the resolution.

Under the ATT, state parties are obligated to take measures to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

States involved in export, transit, shipment and importation must cooperate and share information to mitigate risk of diversion and take appropriate measures to enforce national laws and regulations implementing the provision of ATT, Pimentel said.

Countries must also develop export and import control systems for the trade in conventional arms. The treaty prohibits the transfer of arms, ammunitions, parts and components that would violate obligations under the UN Charter; the obligations of state parties under relevant international agreements; and if the items would be used in the commission of crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, attacks against civilian, or war crimes.

The ATT covers all conventional arms such as battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircrafts, warships, missiles and missile launchers, as well as small arms and light weapons, including ammunition, parts and components.

"The ATT will not negatively impact our local arms industries in terms of exports or imports," Pimentel assured, noting a Center for Arms Violence Reduction report finding that the ATT "will enhance trade standards and improve market value."

"Being a state party to the ATT will also signal our commitment to upholding international humanitarian law and human rights law, and help to avoid accusations of complicity in atrocities or abuses, if arms are misused following a transfer or export by one of our manufacturers," he added.

Pimentel pointed out: "The illicit arms trade and unregulated arms transfers have prolonged armed conflicts, undermined peace and stability, fostered crime and terrorism, facilitated atrocities and put civilians at high risk of death and injury from weapons-related violence."

"The Arms Trade Treaty can help address our long-time problem of weapons ending up in the hands of criminal groups in our country," he said.

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