EDCA, and the Comelec tempest


CONDOLENCES to the families of Nap Rama, 92, Ninoy Aquino’s cellmate, who fought Marcos, and Fortune Balasbas, No. 7 in the 1986 bar exams, and an exemplary Senate staffer of mine. And the Supreme Court (SC) has just deep-sixed our EDCA position, which may soon be cremated.

I, with others, had asked the SC, that the people, via the Senate, not be ignored. I have been called insane. I have long known that my head is not properly and tightly screwed on. But, what I had wanted was for the Constitution to be followed, as I understood it; as it turned out only four Justices were insane, along with the Senators who had communicated to the SC that EDCA should have its concurrence. PNoy probably had the votes anyway.

When Obama came and I attended the dinner in his honor in Malacañang in April 2014, I very politely asked some contacts there for a copy of the agreement signed that morning. They said they had not seen it either. Only days later was I given an unofficial copy of a deal which may affect the fate of my apos, oldest 7, who loves to play soldier. Thanks, or no thanks, to PNoy and Volts Gazmin, who ignored the Senate.

In 1991, when we were asked to act on the extension of the bases agreement, we had been given a copy in advance of what we were to vote on, weeks before the Sept. 16, 1991 voting, when we decided to end the presence of foreign troops after hundreds of years. Foreign Affairs Sec. Raul Manglapus had briefed us as a government co-worker. A public debate followed. Why the secrecy this time? Why the key role of the Defense Sec with a military mindset? I would have preferred the DFA Sec.

In 1941, we were one huge US military base but America was Pearl Harbored into submission and mighty Uncle Sam could not defend us. Japan is now our ally against China, our WWII ally who saved Col. Doolittle’s remnants after that daring raid in Tokyo in April 1942. Alliances shift. No permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. (Lord Palmerston.) The US brutalized us when first they came. But, there was no TV evening news to report nightly, say on the Balangiga or Mt. Bud Dajo Massacres.

I remain of the view that the EDCA requires concurrence by the Senate, the proper democratic constitutional institutional arrangement. Not only the Prez and Gazmin should be involved, but also the people, thru their elected senators. If in a decade or so, my said apo is in the frontline, it should be by some majoritarian process, not only cuz of the Aquino-Gazmin pact. There should have been public hearings, the procedure we adopted in 1991. Here, EDCA was inflicted allegedly on the morning of Prez Obama’s arrival. And I did not get a copy (unofficial) until days later, in a TV talk show.

The Americans shouldn’t use our existing facilities. They could build their own bases, maybe in the disputed sea areas. In the hearings, we could also have mentioned the helplessness of the US in the U.S.S. Pueblo incident in 1968 or the axing to death of Lt. Bonifas in 1976. If attacked today, we fight and others will help in the perception of their own contemporary national interests, not because of some paper.

Vietnam has no EDCA-type of agreement with the US. But, it has PUSO, and defeated the French and Americans and even the Chinese, with whom it had a bloody border war in 1979. Thousands were killed, far many more than the Mamasapano 44, and the wailing and blame game here have yet to stop; on this PNoy has to answer only to his conscience and to history, not JPE, who we now know, is for EDCA! He needs to review his inspiring Explanation for his No vote in 1991. He then said: “I cannot believe that the vitality of this country will be extinguished when the last bargirl in Olongapo turns off the last light in the last cabaret.”

The EDCA voting announced last Tuesday came as no surprise. I had been reading about it here, where our enterprising Jomar Canlas – who I congratulate – is the virtual 16th Justice. Hindi na naman lumabas na bulaang propeta. We’ll need to plug the leaks in the SC, to encourage freer debate and devil advocate’s type of questioning. The SC has been inutile in dealing with leaks. Sino po ang makwentong Justice(s)?

For some weeks now, Jomar, reported that the administration had won. However, three Justices, Arturo Brion, Teresita Leonardo de Castro and Marvic Leonen would dissent. As it happened, Estela Perlas-Bernabe joined the dissenters.

Left to me, I will move to reconsider. We should have a government of, by and for the people, not of Aquino and Gazmin alone. My Motion for Recon would be a deposition for history, in hopes that other Justices may become as insane as the Four Dissenters, me, and the senators led by Miriam. One man in the right may be a majority. No need to insult us. La cortesia no quita la valentia. Courtesy does not detract from valor. Amid the Philippine Sea confrontation, we had this tempest in a teapot in the Comelec. Squabbling is not what the Comelec is paid to do.

Dean Andy Bautista says he wasn’t informed beforehand by the Commissioners who would go to the Supreme Court. The minutes should show if a meeting and discussion took place and how each voted. There has to be a paper trail. But, the Chair, qua Chair, deserves some respect, and should not be the last one to know. I know Commissioner Rowena Guanzon is talented and gutsy but the institution is above anyone of the seven. Rowena and equally talented and gutsy Arthur Lim should have told the Chair and the other members what they had intended to do, if Andy is being truthful here in saying he was the pindeho, the last one to know. Pathetic.

The seven cannot be like different ships passing one another on a dark moonless night. The Comelec should not be a Circular Firing Squad, either. When not shooting one another, it may be shooting the public. It seems to be one in asking for receipts for political donations, which I made sure in late 1991, in the bicam-eral conference committee, would not be taxable, as investments in a democracy. R.A. No. 7166, Sec. 13.

The candidate must personally receive and “receipt” the donations, per the Comelec today. In 1987, Tony Gonzalez of Mondragon gave seed money of a million, which I didn’t need or use, and returned it after the polls. And I had donors all over the land, many, unknown to me. One plastered Sultan Kudarat with my posters, unknown to me, and the donor, Joe Lago or Lagon, never asked for anything. Others bought local newspaper space or radio slots, unknown to me. Others made streamers, decals, whatever, without telling me. All projected: Adopt Rene, or Ampunin si Saguisag. A winning line. Kin, friends, classmates, the human rights community, strangers, et al. supported me. Even certain KBL figures.

How would the Comelec have handled Chino Roces’ Piso-Piso kay Cory campaign?

The new Comelec directive would prove administratively unmanageable. It has better things to do than uniting to oppress us.

Andy, Rowena and Arthur kissed and made up. Good. But, any Chair is always primus inter pares, even if he has also only one vote. He deserves every courtesy. All the Commissioners do. All of us do, including me, a life’s loser. Now, EDCA, and I am being called all sorts of names and told what is thought of me and my ancestors. Can my sainted mother be kept out of this colloquy?


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  1. Sen. Saguisag you are right maybe there is no assurance that the U.S. will depend us from chinese during war, but neither you and the militants will depend our country in times of war. You can ask our soldier which is on the front line not you and the militant opposing the U.S. presencem, if they are in favor of the EDCA, I guess they will say they are very much in favor. Think of the situation and our capability to depend our country before insisting that EDCA was not good for the country. If it is not because of you and the other senators that voted to remove the U.S. basis in the Philippines maybe our interest in the Spratly islands still protected and the chinese don’t have any permanent structure there that put our country in danger. Think about it Sen. Saguisag and replect

    • Uhhh, i think you miss the point of Sen. Saguisag. The point here is that this edca deal was kept secret from others and the senate was not allowed to give its concurance. Why was there no piblic debate on this in the senate, which they could have done had the edca required the senates vote.
      Si pnoy and sec gazmin lang nagdecide diba? Thats the big concern. I am not saying that edca is bad or good (we dont know the long term effect of that) but if we are to decide on something as impoetant as this, the people, through their duly elected senators, should have a say. Yun po point ni sen. Sana sa decision making isama naman kami!

  2. Rfita R Geissler on

    “Pls understand that there are those of us who are fated to be always chasing rainbows preferring to be right in our own way in our own light rather than popular if I am doomed to remain a hostage to my hopes trapped in the dungeons of my many splendoured illusions and impossible dreams then so BE it.” This was and is you 1991 and 2016 soooo Ravsque. I remember pa dramahan ng Explanation of Votes Sen Maceda timed his to finish at 3,pm and the parting shot was “It is finished” My best regards to one of the ‘erudites” of the first Senate!

  3. “Alliances shift. No permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. (Lord Palmerston)” – JPE sees that way, too. So, Rene, you’re contradicting yourself again.

  4. Atty Saguisag, you are not a loser. I have known you to be a very decent honest person, a true patriot and a compassionate person, maybe not t the greatest ballroom dancer. I look forward to reading your comments, all the time. God bless and more power to you.

  5. I do admire your nationalistic value but be also realistic that we have no capability to depend ourselves from the Chinese agression. They have taken and built on our property and we could not even do anything against that. I honestly believe that the Chinese incursion would never happenned if the American bases were still in the Philippines. Just checking has any of the militant take up arms to protect our land from the Chinese. NONE. Is it just proper to ask then we have a common invader now but where are they? Our fishermen are being harrass but any militant protecting them or sailing with them ? Now the American will be there. and you despise it.