Category Archives: Tubbataha

Tubbataha and the Visiting Forces Agreement

In his article entitled “Remedies for the Rape of Tubbataha” (catchy title – it is very much like one of my comments on Facebook), Harry Roque reports on the filing of a motion for issuance of writ of execution in the Supreme Court in the case of Salonga v. Executive Secretary, where the Court ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs  “to forthwith negotiate with the United States representatives for the appropriate agreement on detention facilities under Philippine authorities as provided in Art. V, Sec. 10 of the VFA.”

Roque argues that while the renegotiation ordered by the Supreme Court is for a limited purpose, the recent grounding of the USS Guardian on Tubbataha calls for renegotiation of the VFA towards its abrogation, as it “clearly demonstrates that the VFA has not and will not uphold Philippine interest”.

He notes that under the VFA, all US military personnel should face Philippine courts if their acts are “non-service related”. He argues that the grounding of the Guardian on Tubbataha is non-service related because that petitioners/movants (Salonga, et al.) “speculated that the obvious reason for the incursion of the minesweeper onto the park was to enable its crew to engage in recreational diving in the area.”

So Roque is calling for the abolition of the VFA. But he also demands the implementation of its “non-service related” provisions, based on speculation.

Roque’s heart is in the right place. But will the Supreme Court grant the motion for issuance of writ of execution based on speculation? Can he provide concrete proofs to buttress his claims? This remains to be seen.

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