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Senate approves 5 int’l treaties on second reading



The Senate on Tuesday approved on second reading five international treaties -- the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, Agreement Establishing ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), and three separate Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) between the Philippines and Thailand, Sri Lanka and Mexico.

The Budapest Convention on Cybercrime aims to address the threats posed by cybercrime and facilitates multilateral cooperation and enhanced collective capability to suppress cybercrime.

Meanwhile, the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) will constitute AMRO as an international organization with full legal personality.

It seeks to contribute to securing the economic and financial stability of the region through the conduct of regional economic surveillance and by supporting the implementation of the regional financial arrangement.

Finally, the last set of agreements generally provides for the elimination of double taxation between the Philippines and Thailand, Sri Lanka and Mexico.

These DTAAs are intended to promote international trade and investment, primarily by allocating taxing jurisdiction so as to avoid double taxation; reducing source-State taxation; prohibiting discrimination based on alienage, foreign organization, or foreign ownership; and promoting resolution of situations in which the income taxable by one Contracting State as opposed to the other Contracting State is in question.

The Senate is seeking to approve the agreements on third and final reading on February 19.

Senator Loren Legarda, who sponsored the agreements to the Senate plenary, hailed the swift approval of the treaties, underscoring their importance to the Philippines and its standing in the international community.

The chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations said the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime remains the only binding international legal mechanism adopted by countries to address the threats posed by cybercrime.

"The Internet improved many things and ushered in a more intertwined humanity. But it also gave rise to numerous unintended consequences, foremost of which is cybercrime. Since cybercrime, by its very nature, is borderless, simultaneous and persistent, cooperation, coordination, and collaboration with other countries is therefore vital," she stressed.

The Senator said the approval of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime will provide the Philippines distinct guideposts on the track towards harmonizing its national laws with prevailing international legal frameworks and practices.

Meanwhile, approval of the AMRO will constitute AMRO as an international organization with full legal personality.

The AMRO, initially established as a company limited by guarantee in Singapore, aims to contribute to securing the economic and financial stability of the region through the conduct of regional economic surveillance and by supporting the implementation of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM), a multilateral currency swap arrangement among ASEAN+3 members.

To date, the Philippines is the only ASEAN+3 member state that has not yet ratified the AMRO Agreement.

Legarda said that in this situation, the country is exposed to reputational risk in terms of its commitment to the ASEAN+3 Cooperation.

"The international organization status will afford the AMRO an intangible capital that can give it access to intelligence, research and other resources owned by other international organizations, and regional and global fora. This will provide greater macroeconomic surveillance capability for the institution, and consequently benefit the Philippines as one of its clients together with other ASEAN+3 Members," Legarda said.

Jose Cielito Reganit / PNA