Enrile asks colleagues to ratify VFA with Australia

SENATE President Juan Ponce Enrile urged his colleague to concur the Visiting Forces Agreement with Australia or the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOFVA) to help strengthen security cover of the country from external threat.

“In my view, it will be ratified, naniniwala ako na kailangan natin ito kasi kapos tayo sa security cover sa ating bansa,at hindi natin kaya magsarili, since we are modernizing our armed forces, we need the help of other country like Australia to augment needed resources for our security,” Enrile said in an interview Sunday.

Enrile also warned for possible repercussion on trade, security and bilateral relations with Australia if the Philippine Senate rejects SOVFA.

“Malaki ang repercussion yan, Australia is a friendly country, malaki ang trade natin sa kanila, tinulungan din tayo noong nakaraang world war, hindi naman puwedeng itatakswil mo ang isang bansa na tumulong sa iyo, malaki ang tulong sa atin sa pagpapatayo ng mga highway sa Samar, at malaki ang impact kung hindi natin raratify iyan,” Enrile said.

“We ratify it or not, that is our call, tayo ang nangangailangan nyan,” he added.

Meanwhile, Senator Loren Legarda, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, asked President Benigno Aquino to help in the concurrence of the agreement since it was a priority measure by the Palace which was reiterated during their conversation on the celebration of the Independence Day recently.

“Nakausap ko si President noong sa Independence Day celebration sa Palasyo, sabi nya,  Loren mahalaga ito ah. Kaya dapat kausapin ni President ang mga kaalyado nya… kung hindi maipapasa tatanggapin ko, basta ako i will defend it sa floor,” Legarda said.

“Salamat sa inyong mag-sponsor sa SOVFA,” Legarda said quoting Mr. Aquino. “Mahalagang-mahalaga ito he kept on saying that.”

She said the voting on the SOVFA is like voting in the impeachment tria where conscience were used for removing former Chief Justice Renato Corona from the Supreme Court.

“Hindi ako nag-lobby sa 22 senators, botohan ng konsiyensya na iyan, just like the impeachment trial,  and i respect that, I understand their point. Kung gusto talaga ni PNoy yan, it is his call,” she said.

Recently, seven senators rejected the agreement on its second reading before Congress adjourned sine die last June 6, 2012 with Senators Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor-Santiago,  Sergio Osmena III, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Aquilino Pimentel III, Manuel Villar and Ralph Recto opposing the measure.

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