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Legarda Reports Accomplishments as Chair of Foreign Relations Committee

June 7, 2013

Senator Loren Legarda today reported her accomplishments as Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in a span of around two years in the 15th Congress, highlighted by the approval of sixteen international agreements and the investigation on the dumping of toxic waste in Philippine seawaters.

Legarda headed the joint investigation of the Committees on Foreign Relations and Environment and Natural Resources on the alleged dumping of wastes in seawaters by MT Glenn Guardian, a vessel owned by Glenn Defense Marine Asia Pte Ltd.

The investigation report showed that Glenn Defense clearly violated Philippine laws when it dumped sewage waste in seawaters covered by the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on October 15, 2012. It recommended the conduct of administrative proceedings and criminal proceedings against Glenn Defense and, if warranted, even its blacklisting.

Meanwhile, Legarda has reported 19 out of the 21 treaties referred to the Foreign Relations Committee. The Senate adopted 16 of these international agreements.

The adopted treaties are as follows:

  • The Philippines-Japan Agreement on Technical Cooperation. It promotes technical cooperation initiatives aimed at developing human resources needed in ensuring economic progress and stability.
  • The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The treaty is important because the ICC can step in when countries are unwilling or unable to dispense justice when it comes to the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely – genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression. The ratification of this Statute paved the way for Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s election as ICC Judge for a term of 9 years.
  • The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). It strengthens the protection of persons deprived of their liberty against torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment through the institutionalization of a national preventive mechanism that would ensure that the Philippines would meet international standards on confinement and treatment of prisoners.
  • Protocol Additional to the Geneva Convention, Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I). It will provide better protection for Filipino soldiers when they are deployed abroad for peacekeeping and other military operations in the course of an international armed conflict.
  • The Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management to Establish the Office of the WorldFish Center in the Philippines (ICLARM). It will support Philippine initiatives in fighting hunger and reducing poverty by improving fisheries and aquaculture.
  • Two (2) Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT)—the MLAT between the Philippines and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the MLAT between the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China. These treaties establish a legal framework, which obligates the Contracting Parties to assist in the investigation, prosecution and suppression of criminal offenses and proceedings related to criminal matters.
  • Consular Agreement with the People’s Republic of China. It extends immediate and appropriate protection to our nationals in China who are being detained, arrested or deprived of freedom.
  • Convention on Social Security between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Spain. It ensures that Filipinos in Spain are secured upon retirement in the twilight of their years.
  • Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Government of Australia concerning the Status of Visiting Forces of the other State. It will enhance cooperation on maritime terrorism and other security threats. It defines the rights as well as the responsibilities between the visiting forces and the host government on such matters as criminal and civil jurisdiction, claims, entry and exit of personnel and property, movement of vessels, aircraft and vehicles and carrying of arms, among others.
  • International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189, the Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers. It improves the employment conditions of domestic workers in the Philippines and worldwide by ensuring that domestic workers, like other workers, enjoy the same mantle of basic rights, such as reasonable hours of work, weekly rest, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, and freedom of association.
  • Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. It is the seafarers’ bill of rights. It covers such basic rights as freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; effective abolition of child labor; and elimination of discrimination with respect to employment and occupation.
  • The Protocol Amending the Agreement between the Philippine Government and the French Republic for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income. It broadens the scope of information that may be exchanged relating to tax administration, including bank information.
  • Two (2) treaties on the Avoidance of Double Taxation—the Philippines-Kuwait Tax Treaty and the Philippines-Qatar Tax Treaty. These treaties help the Contracting States to better enforce domestic laws so as to reduce tax evasion, and they likewise promote technology transfer, and international academic, cultural, and sports exchanges.
  • The Agreement between the Philippine Government and the UNESCO to establish the Southeast Asian Center for Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development (SEA CLLSD) in the country. The establishment of the SEA CLLSD envisions the creation of an educational framework that works for sustainable development. It seeks to develop and provide appropriate learning programs, which aim to benefit the marginalized, the disadvantaged, and the underserved members of the population, including our indigenous peoples, our out-of-school youth and our non-literate adults.

“I am glad to report that Senate Committee on Foreign Relations was able to accomplish this much. These treaties are vital both to the country and to Filipinos in other countries. These significant developments in the area of international relations will ultimately redound to the benefit of Filipinos,” Legarda concluded.