4.24.2012

Tanada v. Angara

Facts
On April 15, 1994, the Philippine Government represented by its Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry signed the Final Act binding the Philippine Government to submit to its respective competent authorities the WTO (World Trade Organization) Agreements to seek approval for such. On December 14, 1994, Resolution No. 97 was adopted by the Philippine Senate to ratify the WTO Agreement.
This is a petition assailing the constitutionality of the WTO agreement as it violates Sec 19, Article II, providing for the development of a self reliant and independent national economy, and Sections 10 and 12, Article XII, providing for the “Filipino first” policy.

Issue
Whether or not the Resolution No. 97 ratifying the WTO Agreement is unconstitutional

Ruling
The Supreme Court ruled the Resolution No. 97 is not unconstitutional. While the constitution mandates a bias in favor of Filipino goods, services, labor and enterprises, at the same time, it recognizes the need for business exchange with the rest of the world on the bases of equality and reciprocity and limits protection of Filipino interests only against foreign competition and trade practices that are unfair. In other words, the Constitution did not intend to pursue an isolationalist policy. Furthermore, the constitutional policy of a “self-reliant and independent national economy” does not necessarily rule out the entry of foreign investments, goods and services. It contemplates neither “economic seclusion” nor “mendicancy in the international community.”
The Senate, after deliberation and voting, gave its consent to the WTO Agreement thereby making it “a part of the law of the land”. The Supreme Court gave due respect to an equal department in government. It presumes its actions as regular and done in good faith unless there is convincing proof and persuasive agreements to the contrary. As a result, the ratification of the WTO Agreement limits or restricts the absoluteness of sovereignty. A treaty engagement is not a mere obligation but creates a legally binding obligation on the parties. A state which has contracted valid international obligations is bound to make its legislations such modifications as may be necessary to ensure the fulfillment of the obligations undertaken.

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