Suzette Nicolas vs Alberto Romulo

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578 SCRA 438 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – Ratification of a Treaty – Validity of the Visiting Forces Agreement

**This case is consolidated with Salonga vs Daniel Smith & BAYAN vs Gloria Arroyo

On the 1st of November 2005, Daniel Smith committed the crime of rape against Nicole. He was convicted of the said crime and was ordered by the court to suffer imprisonment. Smith was a US serviceman convicted of a crime against our penal laws and the crime was committed within the country’s jurisdiction. But pursuant to the VFA, a treaty between the US and Philippines, the US embassy was granted custody over Smith. Nicole, together with the other petitioners appealed before the SC assailing the validity of the VFA. Their contention is that the VFA was not ratified by the US senate in the same way our senate ratified the VFA.

ISSUE: Is the VFA void and unconstitutional & whether or not it is self-executing.

HELD: The VFA is a self-executing Agreement because the parties intend its provisions to be enforceable, precisely because the VFA is intended to carry out obligations and undertakings under the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty. As a matter of fact, the VFA has been implemented and executed, with the US faithfully complying with its obligation to produce Smith before the court during the trial.

The VFA is covered by implementing legislation inasmuch as it is the very purpose and intent of the US Congress that executive agreements registered under this Act within 60 days from their ratification be immediately implemented. The SC noted that the VFA is not like other treaties that need implementing legislation such as the Vienna Convention. As regards the implementation of the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty, military aid or assistance has been given under it and this can only be done through implementing legislation. The VFA itself is another form of implementation of its provisions.

 

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