THE Senate on Tuesday adopted a resolution filed by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago expressing the strong sense of the chamber that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed between the Philippines and the United States (US) requires Senate concurrence.
With 14 affirmative votes, one negative vote and two abstentions, the Senate approved on third final reading Resolution 1414.
Santiago, in her sponsorship speech, cited article 7, Section 21 of the Constitution which reads: “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.”
“This is the only provision of the fundamental law that determines the validity and effectiveness of treaties as law of the land. Other than concurrence of the Senate, no authority expressly transforms a treaty into law,” she said.
The senator noted that EDCA is a prohibited treaty of “foreign military bases, troops, or facilities” concluded in the absence of Senate concurrence.
She said the Solicitor General’s position that the agreement is in the nature of “foreign military bases, troops, or facilities” is a judicial admission that it is of the category that “shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate.”
Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th, who voted against the resolution, said EDCA is not a treaty or international agreement, and it was intended to implement their respective obligations under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“In a matter of speaking, the EDCA is merely an implementing agreement which is intended to implement the rights and obligations already previously provided under the MDT, VFA and the UN Charter,” he added.
Senate minority leader Juan Ponce Enrile abstained, saying he sees no need for the Senate to pass the resolution since it is merely a reiteration of Section 21 article 7 of the constitution.
Malacanang has insisted that EDCA, signed last year by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg, is not a treaty but an executive agreement that does not require Senate concurrence.
The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the constitutionality of EDCA but based on information obtained by The Manila Times from reliable sources, the tribunal will declare EDCA constitutional.