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G.R. No.

151445 Lim vs Executive Secretary 151445

Facts:
In the beginning of 2002, the personnel of Armed Forces of the United
States started to arrive in the Philippines which will participate in the
Balikatan 02-1 pursuant to the VFA (Visitig Forces Agreement) signed in
1999. The Balikatan 02-1 is a simulation of joint military maneuvers or
exercises of Filipino and American which was pursuant to MDT (Mutual
Defense Treaty) a bilateral agreement entered into by the Philippine
Government and United States Government in 1951. The entry of the
American troops in the Philippines is partly rooted from the campaign of US
President George W. Bush against international terrorism as a result of
terrorist attacks in United States which was the cause of numerous loss of
lives.
The petitioners, Arthur D. Lim and Paulino P. Ersando, as citizens,
lawyers, and taxpayers, filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition and
attacking the constitutionality of Balikatan 02-1 or the joint exercise.
Subsequently, they were joined by SANLAKAS and Partido ng Manggagawa
by filing a petition-in-intervention, the claimed that some of their members
were situated in the places were the exercise are being conducted.
However the Solicitor General, claimed that there were lack of locus standi,
does not invlve tax spending, and there is no proof of direct personal injury.

Issue:
WON the Balikatan02-1 is covered by the VFA.
WON the VFA is constitutional.

Held:
The VFA permits the US personnel to engage, on an impermanent basis, in
activities, the exact meaning of which was undefined. The permit under
VFA grants US personnel a wide scope of undertaking subject only to
approval of the Philippine Government. In general US personnel must
abstain from any activities inconsistent with the agreement, and in
particular, from an political activities. All other activities, in other words, are
fair game.
In aid of the case at bar, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties Article
31 and 32 which contains the provisions governing the interpretation of
international agreements. The cardinal rule of interpretation must involve
an examination of the text, which is presume to verbalise the intentions of
the parties.

The word activities in the view of the court it was deliberately made that
way to give both parties a leeway for negotiations. In this manner, the US
forces may sojourn in the territory of the Philippines for purposes other than
military. Under these auspices, the VFA gives legitimacy to the current
Balikatan exercises. It is only logical to assume that Balikatan 02-1, a mutual
anti-terrorism, advising, assisting and training exercise falls under the
context of the agreement.
From the facts obtaining, the court find that the Balikatan 02-1 joint military
exercises has not intruded into that penumbra of error that would otherwise
call for correction on the part of the court. The respondents did not commit
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
Wherefore, the petition and petition-in-intervention are hereby dismissed
without prejudice to the filing of new petition sufficient in form and
substance in the proper regional trial court.