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Pacquiao files resolution blocking Drilon, contradicts own votes

MANILA, Philippines – Neophyte Senator Manny Pacquiao filed a resolution on Tuesday, March 7, contradicting his own legislative actions before and after he filed the measure.

Pacquiao filed Senate Resolution No 318, seeking to block Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s measure [Resolution No. 289], which requires the concurrence of the Senate in any treaty withdrawal or abrogation. (READ: 14 senators' resolution: Senate has a say in termination of treaties)

But this is in stark contrast to Pacquiao’s own legislative actions before and after he filed the measure. He himself voted for the Senate concurrence in the ratifications of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Paris climate agreement.

Both resolutions explicitly say that Senate concurrence is needed in annulling any treaty.

“Resolved, finally, That the President of the Philippines may, with the concurrence of the Senate, withdraw the membership of the Philippines from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,” read Adopted Resolution 33.

“RESOLVED, FINALLY, that the President of the Philippines may, with the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members of the Senate, withdraw from the [Paris] Agreement,” read Senate Resolution 320. (The copy of the Adopted Resolution is yet to be finalized)

Pacquiao voted in favor of the AIIB concurrence in December 2016, 3 months before he filed his resolution. He voted for the Paris climate deal on March 14, just a week after he filed his measure.

Constitutional violation?

Drilon’s move to require Senate concurrence in withdrawal of treaties came after no less than President Rodrigo Duterte dangled the idea of ending the US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement and other international agreements.

"A treaty or international agreement ratified by the President and concurred in by the Senate becomes part of the law of the land and may not be undone without the shared power that put it into effect," Drilon argued.

But for Duterte ally Pacquiao, Drilon’s act is “unconstitutional,” as the 1987 Constitution grants the Senate the power only to concur in the ratification, not the abrogation, of treaties.

“[Drilon’s resolution] clearly violates the principle on how legislation shall be passed as it tends to superimpose a provision to the constitution by vesting upon the Senate the power to concur in the abrogation of an international agreement,” the athlete-turned-senator said in his resolution.

Pacquiao also proposed to change Senate rules, specifically Rule 25, Section 72, to insist that resolutions like those filed by Drilon – if and when adopted by the chamber – "shall have no effect and force of a law.” 

Rene Casibang, Pacquiao’s head of media relations, confirmed that Pacquiao voted in favor of the two deals that contradict his Resolution 318.

“According to our information, the Paris agreement was voted unanimously by the Senate. Re: AIIB, I can only assume that he voted for it considering his association with Legarda,” Casibang told Rappler, referring to Senator Loren Legarda, the sponsor of the two agreements.

The neophyte senator had been pivotal in ousting Drilon and other Liberal Party senators from key posts.

Drilon, in turn, grilled Pacquiao on legislative policies and even lectured him on "very basic" principles in government. (WATCH: Pacquiao, Drilon 'spar' in the Senate– Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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