Dispatch from Crame No. 730: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s further comments on the issue of Senate concurrence for treaty abrogation


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In my Dispatch yesterday, I made the argument that while the 1987 Constitution did not explicitly provide for the procedure in treaty abrogation, its very spirit or philosophy and the Framers’ intent unmistakably requires Senate concurrence not only for treaty-making but for treaty-unmaking as well. An effective check and balance had to be instituted in the hope that never again will the Filipino people undergo the harrowing experiences of a dictatorship.

There is also the underlying principle that any law passed, including the fundamental law, is constructed with the basic legal precepts in mind. This includes the legal dictum that a law can only be repealed by another law.

A bill that becomes a law can no longer be changed by the executive without going through Congress. More pointedly, treaties already concurred in by the Senate become an expression of the national interest in international affairs that even the President as chief architect of foreign policy cannot contravene without Congress’s or the Senate’s approval.

Treaties are the act of the sovereign through their nationally-elected representatives in the Senate. Being an act of the sovereign, a non-sovereign cannot abrogate them. I say it again—the President is not the sovereign. In the Philippines, the President is not king.

Another reason why the 1987 Constitution did not spell out details for certain actions like treaty abrogation is because the framers did not imagine a Duterte autocracy. If they did, the Constitution would have an additional one thousand pages, with annexes to boot, of what the president can and cannot do. The framers would have spelled out the following:

The President cannot kill or order murders;

The President cannot falsely accuse and persecute political enemies;

The President cannot pressure members of the judiciary on how to decide a case;

The President cannot surrender national territory to a foreign country;

The President cannot be an agent, spy, or official of a foreign country;

The President cannot allow the invasion of the country by foreign workers, criminals, and mafia syndicates;

The President cannot treat the police and security forces as his personal army;

The President cannot cover-up the wrongdoings of favored public officials, including PNP scalawags;

The President cannot employ an elected Senator as a personal caregiver;

The President cannot molest and harass women, etc., etc., etc.

In short, if only the framers of the 1987 Constitution imagined a Duterte presidency, they would have explicitly provided in the Constitution that the President of the Philippines cannot, at any point in time, be a narcissistic sociopath devoid of any morals or empathy whatsoever.

(Access the handwritten version of Dispatch from Crame No. 730, here: https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatch_730)

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