SENATE President Franklin Drilon has called on the Supreme Court (SC) to immediately act on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) issue so the Senate will be guided in its action.
Drilon said questions on whether the EDCA needs to be submitted to the Senate will be resolved as soon as the High Court decides if the agreement is constitutional or if it has to be ratified first by the legislature.
“Based on the legal position of the Office of the President, EDCA is only an agreement in (relation to the) implementation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). This is a matter which is now pending in the Supreme Court,” Drilon said.
The SC is yet to rule on the petition filed by several individuals asking the court to declare EDCA, which was signed last April, unconstitutional because it did not have a concurrence by the Senate and that it is “contrary to national interest.”
The petitioners are insisting that the agreement should have been submitted to the senate for concurrence since an agreement that allows the presence of the foreign troops in the country needs a treaty.
Oral arguments ended last week but both the petitioners and the Solicitor General still have more than 10 days to submit their memorandum.
Article 7, Section 21 of the Constitution states that “No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.”
Senator Miriam Santiago, during the Senate Foreign relations committee hearing Monday maintained that the EDCA is not valid and effective because it was not submitted to Senate as what the constitution requires.
She plans to file a resolution expressing the “collective wisdom” of the Senate on EDCA and the failure of President Benigno Aquino 3rd to submit the agreement to the Senate for concurrence.
The executive, instead of having EDCA submitted to the senate, had the deal signed by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg on April 28, 2014 hours before US President Barack Obama arrived in the country for a two-day state visit.
No need for EDCA
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Vice chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked officials of the Departments of Foreign Affairs and National Defense, why the country needs EDCA when there is no assurance that the US will support the Philippines in combating foreign aggression.
Marcos also asked about the prepositioning of war materials, like vessels and aircraft, under the exclusive use of the United States as the places where these materials are kept can be classified as “military bases.”
He added that since these are “clearly not for training purposes but for warfare, then this exposes the Philippines to more threats especially among known enemies of the United States.”
Although there is no assurance that the US will come to our aid in case we are attacked by another nation, Gazmin said that the mere increase of US troop in the country as a result of EDCA is enough deterrent against foreign invaders.
Marcos said the EDCA does not even have a bilateral character since the use of prepositioned materials, planes and other facilities only need notification, not a concurrence, by the US to the Philippines.
The US military bases were ordered removed by the Senate in 1991. But in 1999, the Philippines entered into a VFA with the US for the purpose of joint military exercises to upgrade the skills and weaponry of the Philippines.