Anti-Terrorism Council tasked to implement int’l treaty on chemical weapons

MANILA, May 4 (PNA) – President Benigno Aquino III has issued Executive Order (EO) 39 designating the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) as the lead agency in charge of enforcing an international arms control agreement that bans chemical weapons.

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Wednesday the issuance of the presidential directive was in compliance with the country’s obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), an international treaty adopted in 1992 to outlaw the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons.

The President signed EO 39 last April 28, Ochoa said.

“There is a need to fully implement in the country the provisions of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons Convention since our country took part in the negotiations that led to its adoption as well as signed and ratified it,” said Ochoa, who is also the head of ATC.

Ochoa noted that Paragraph 4, Article VII of the treaty provides that every party to the CWC shall establish a “National Authority” to coordinate between the Philippines and the Netherlands-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to which the Philippines is a member.

Prior to the issuance of EO 39, the Department of Foreign Affairs had been functioning as the interim Philippine National Authority (PNA) on CWC and other disarmament issues.

EO 39 shall take effect immediately upon publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

Under the presidential fiat, the ATC shall be referred to as PNA-CWC, which will not only serve as national coordinating body for the OPCW but shall likewise be the lead agency in the implementation of the provisions of the treaty.

The Executive Secretary was appointed chairperson of the PNA-CWC with the ATC-Program Management Center serving as the Secretariat of the PNA-CWC.

To facilitate its work, EO 39 authorized the PNA-CWC to establish sub-committees, if it deems necessary, to render assistance in the implementation of its functions and serve as pool of experts. The PNA-CWC may also request personnel from other government agencies to assist its Secretariat.

EO 39 also directs all government departments, bureaus, offices, agencies or instrumentalities, including government-owned and -controlled corporations and government financial institutions to extend support to the PNA-CWC for the successful implementation of its functions.

The presidential issuance earmarked an initial funding of P5 million for the PNA-CWC, which shall be taken from the Contingent Fund of the Office of the President (OP). Subsequent funding for the PNA-CWC and its Secretariat shall be included in the budget of the ATC.

The CWC, also known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons Convention, was adopted on September 3, 1992. The Philippines signed and ratified the Convention on January 13, 1993 and February 21, 1995, respectively.

The Philippine Senate issued Resolution No. 49 on August 19, 1996, signifying its concurrence to the ratification of the Convention by the government. (PNA)

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