Malacañang is confident that the new rotational basing deal or the enhanced defense cooperation agreement (EDCA) entered into by the Philippines and the United States will stand legal scrutiny in the Supreme Court.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. made the statement on Sunday as some militant lawmakers were reported to be preparing to question the legality of the agreement before the High Court.
“Iginagalang po natin ang mga kuro-kuro ng mga hindi sumasang-ayon [We respect the opinion of those who do not agree with us],” Coloma said on government-run dzRB radio.
“Malinaw naman po sa ating sistema ng demokrasya na mayroong mga hakbang na maaari silang gawin, tulad ng pagdudulog sa ating Korte Suprema. Mainam po sigurong hintayin na lang natin kung magaganap nga ‘yan [It is clear that our democratic system provides for steps that they may take, including seeking relief from the Supreme Court. It is best to wait if that will happen],” he added
Coloma, however, asked the public to try to first understand and accept the agreement, which was entered into by the government for the welfare of the nation.
“Sa buong proseso ng pakikipagtalakayan sa Estados Unidos hinggil sa kasunduang ito, wala pong ibang isinaalang-alang ang ating Philippine panel kundi ang pambansang interes ng Pilipinas [During our talks with the United States on the agreement, the only consideration of the Philippine panel was no other than the national interest of the Philippines],” he said
The Palace official, moreover, disputed Sen. Joker Arroyo’s position that the Aquino administration skirted the constitutional ban on foreign military bases through the Edca.
He said there was a “clear provision that the US would not establish a permanent military presence or base in the Philippines” and that access to agreed locations “will be at the invitation of the Philippine government.”
Arroyo earlier said the Edca is worse than actually having foreign bases in the country—which is prohibited by the Philippine Constitution—since it allows local bases to be used by American forces.
But Coloma insisted that there was nothing wrong with the agreement.
Saying the government “[respects]the views of Sen. Arroyo and other leaders on the [Edca],” he cited the main features of the agreement:
clear provision that the US would not establish a permanent military presence or base in the Philippines; US access to and use of designated areas in Armed Forces of the Philippines-owned-and-controlled facilities will be at the invitation of the Philippine government; prior consent of the Philippines through the Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board with regard to US access and use of agreed locations, which may be lifted in an annex and further described in an implementing arrangement; Philippines’ retention of primary responsibility for security of the agreed locations and access of the AFP base commander to the entire area of the agreed locations.