ISSUE: Whether or not the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) unconstitutional
FACTS: The Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America entered into an agreement called the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). The agreement was treated as a treaty by the Philippine government and was ratified by then-President Joseph Estrada with the concurrence of 2/3 of the total membership of the Philippine Senate. The VFA defines the treatment of U.S. troops and personnel visiting the Philippines. It provides for the guidelines to govern such visits, and further defines the rights of the U.S. and the Philippine governments in the matter of criminal jurisdiction, movement of vessel and aircraft, importation and exportation of equipment, materials and supplies. Petitioners argued, inter alia, that the VFA violates §25, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that “foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate . . . and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”
RATIO DECIDENDI: Section 25, Article XVIII disallows foreign military bases, troops, or facilities in the country, unless the following conditions are sufficiently met, viz: (a) it must be under a treaty; (b) the treaty must be duly concurred in by the Senate and, when so required by congress, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum; and (c) recognized as a treaty by the other contracting state. There is no dispute as to the presence of the first two requisites in the case of the VFA. The concurrence handed by the Senate through Resolution No. 18 is in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution . . . the provision in [in §25, Article XVIII] requiring ratification by a majority of the votes cast in a national referendum being unnecessary since Congress has not required it.