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LAW DOES NOT DISTINGUISH, COURTS SHOULD NOT DISTINGUISH22 BAYAN (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) VS.

ZAMORAFACTS: On March 14, 1947, the Philippines and the US made the Military Bases Agreement, which formalized, amongothers, the use of installations in the Philippine territory by US military personnel. On August 30, 1951, The Philippines and the US entered into aMutual Defense Treaty to further strengthen theirdefense and security relationship. Under the treaty, the parties agreed to respond to any external armed attack ontheir territory, armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft. On September 16, 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the proposed RP-US Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation andSecurity, which would have extended the presence of US military bases in the Philippines. The US and the Philippines discussed the possible elements of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). After a seriesof conferences and negotiations, President Ramos approved the VFA, which was respectively signed by SecretarySiazon and US Ambassador Thomas Hubbard. On October 5, 1998, President Estrada, through the respondent Secretary of Foreign Affairs ratified the VFA. Thenext day, President Estrada, acting through Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora officially transmitted to thePhilippine Senate the Instrument of Ratification, the letter of the President and the WFA for concurrencepursuant to Sec 21, Art VII of the Constitution. The Committee on Foreign Relations and Committee on NationalDefense and Security submitted Proposed Senate Resolution No. 443, recommending the concurrence to theVFA.

On May 27, 1999, The Senate Resolution was approved by the Senate, by a 2/3s (18) votes of its members. OnJune 1, 1999, the VFA officially entered into force. Petitions for certiorari and prohibition were filed by the petitioners as legislators, non-governmental organizations,citizens and taxpayers, assailing the constitutionality of the VFA and impute to respondents grave abuse of discretion in ratifying the VFA. Petitioners argue that Sec. 25, Art.XVIII is applicable because the VFA involves the presence of foreign militarytroops in the Philippines. Thus, the following conditions must first be met: 1) it must be a treaty, 2) it must beduly concurred by the Senate, ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a national referendum held for thatpurpose if required by Congress, c) recognized assuch by the contracting state. Respondents, on the other hand,say that Sec. 21, Art VII should apply because the VFA is not a basing agreement but an agreement, involvingmerely temporary visits of the US personnel engaged in joint military exercises.ISSUES: a)Do petitioners have legal standing as concerned citizens, taxpayers, or legislators to question the constitutionalityof the VFA?b) Is the VFA governed by the provisions of Sec. 21, Art. VII or Sec. 25, Art XVIII of the Constitution? c)Was there a graveabuse of discretion on the part of the respondents in ratifying the agreement? RULING:Petition should be DISMISSED. The VFA is NOT UNCONSTITUTI ONAL.RATIO: a)Petitioners failed to show that they have sustained or are in danger of sustain ing any direc t injury as a result of theenforcement of the VFA. As taxpayers, they have failed to show that the VFA directly involves the illegaldisbursement of public funds derived from taxation. As legislators, they have not established that they have therequisite legal standing and the IBP lacks the legal capacity to bring the suit in the absence of a board resolutionfrom its Board of Governors authorizing its National President to commence the present action. However, theCourt

resolves to take cognizance of the casebecause of transcendental importance.b) Lexspecialis derogant generali. A special provision or law prevails over a general one. Thus, Sec. 25, Art. XVIII,which specifically deals with treaties involving foreign military bases, troops, or facilities should apply in theinstant case. However, must not be treated in isolation to Sec. 21, Art. VII, which should apply to all treaties andinternational agreements in general and requires the concurrence of at least 2/3s of all the members of theSenate. Since the Congress did not require the ratification by a majority of the votes cast by the people in anational referendum, having met the concurrence requirement was enough. It is wrong to say that Sec. 25, Art XVIII is inapplicable to temporary agreements for the reason that there is nopermanent placing of structure for the establishment of a military base. There is nothing in the provisionrequiring foreign troops or facilities be stationed permanently in the Philippines. When the law does notdistinguish, the Court should not distinguish. Ubilex nondistinguitnecnosdistinguire debemos. Also, to say that Sec. 25, Art XVIII is not applicable because there are no foreign military bases involved but onlytroops and facilities is also wrong. The use of comma and the word or in the clause foreign military bases,troops, or facilities show that they should not be treated collectively but as separate and independent subjects.Thus, any of the three standing alone places it under the coverage of the said section.The third requirement in Sec. 25, Art XVIII is that it must be recognized as a treaty by the other state. Petitionersargue that the VFA should have the advice and consent of the US Senate pursuant to its own constitutional processand should not beconsidered merely as an executive agreement by the US. The Court ruled in favor of therespondents, saying that the phrase recognized as a treaty means the other contracting accepts or acknowledgesthe agreement as a treaty. The words in the Constitution are to be given their ordinary meaning except wheretechnical terms are

employed, in which case the significance thus attached to them prevails. Moreover, underinternational law, there is no difference between treaties and executive agreements in their binding effect upon 24 states. Thus, for as long as the US acknowledges the VFA as a treaty, and binds itself to comply with its obligationsunder the treaty, there was compliance with the mandate of the Constitution.c)There was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Preside nt in ratifying the VFA and referring it to theSenate pursuant to Sec. 21, Art. VII of the Constitution. The power to enter into treaties or internationalagreements is vested by the Constitution in the President. The negotiationof the VFA and the subsequentratification are exclusive acts which solely pertain to the President, in the same way that the Constitution lodgesthe power to concur with treaties to the Senate alone. Both the President, in ratifying the VFA and submitting thesame to the Senate for concurrence, and the Senate, in concurring, acted within the limits of the powers vested inthem by the Constitution. DISSENTING OPINION PUNO: The intent of the framers of the Constitution was to avoid the asymmetry in the legal treatment of the MilitaryBases Agreement by the two contracting parties RP treating such as a treaty, while the US treating it merely as anexecutive agreement. Thus, the recognition of the US of the VFA should be by the US President with the adviceand consent of the US Senate. Based on the exchanges of the Constitutional Commissioners, in ascertaining the VFAs compliance with theconstitutional requirement, the yardstick should be US Constitutional law. The Court will be standing on unstable ground if it places a sole executive agreement like the VFA on the samelevel as a treaty.CONSTI TUTIONAL PROVISIONS:

Section 21, Article VII: No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by atleast 2/3s of all the Members of the Senate. Section 25, Article XVIII: After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the RP and the US concerningMilitary Bases, foreign military bases, troops or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under atreaty duly concurred in and when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of votes cast by the people innational referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting state