A Supreme Court (SC) ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) will enhance the country’s defense posturing and disaster preparedness by leaps and bounds, according to Malacañang.
Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Tuesday said the decision “strengthens the strategic partnership between the Philippines and the United States that is founded on two other important building blocks: the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement.”
“This ruling boosts the ongoing Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Modernization Program and paves the way for upgrading our military equipment and capability for national defense as well as for humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” he added.
“According to the President, one of the benefits of the EDCA would be to introduce the AFP to the ‘most modern equipment…and have a generational leap in our abilities’,” Coloma pointed out.
In an earlier news briefing, he described EDCA as an “important part of the military infrastructure” not only in terms of external defense and security but in the more important issue of humanitarian and relief assistance during calamities.
“This is a welcome event that confirms the policy of the government in strengthening its defense ties with its ally, the United States,” he said minutes after the Supreme Court voting came out.
One of the groups that questioned the defense agreement, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), was saddened by the SC decision, describing Tuesday as “another sad day for Philippine sovereignty.”
“We shall immediately consult our lawyers regarding a possible motion for
reconsideration, especially since the SC vote was not unanimous,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said in a statement.
He bewailed that the decision was a “de facto reversal of the historic 1991 Senate vote that booted out US bases from the Philippines.”
“The decision will pave the way for the construction of new US military facilities in different parts of the country. It also paves the way for the use by US troops of existing PH military facilities, rent-free and tax-free,” he argued.
Reyes vowed that his group will continue to expose and oppose US military intervention in the Philippines.
“We maintain that EDCA is not the solution to the problem of China’s incursions, not when the EDCA also violates PH sovereignty. The Filipino people must now resolutely oppose the return of US bases and all the social ills associated with these bases. Hindi kailanman naging limitado sa korte ang laban [The battle is not always within the courts],” he said.
Since the announcement of the US pivot to Asia, the Bayan leader noted that Washington has sought to expand its presence in the Philippines through bilateral military agreements such as the EDCA and the Visiting Forces Agreement.
“The US wants to remain a Pacific power and is using the Philippines as a launching pad for military intervention and power projection in the region. We recognize that we have to stand up against China’s incursions and island-grabbing but the EDCA is not the solution as it is also a violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity. Neither will the EDCA lead to AFP modernization, much the same way that the 1947 US Bases Agreement did not develop our armed forces,” Reyes said.