THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is ready to defend its defense agreement with Japan, whose legality was recently challenged at the Supreme Court (SC).
The High Court ordered the government on Tuesday to answer the petition filed by a militant group questioning constitutionality of the military exercises held by the Philippines and Japan.
“From the perspective of the Armed Forces and the Philippine Navy, we believe that the exercises were conducted with firm basis on our existing policies and laws which will be clarified thoroughly when we bring this matter up at the Supreme Court level,” said AFP spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla.
Padilla said the Department of National Defense (DND) will be the lead agency that will defend the issue.
“Let’s wait for the sessions to start and observe from there because I cannot pre-empt whatever it is that will be presented. But be that as it may, we believe that we are on firm ground as far as the exercises with Japan are concerned,” he added.
The AFP official said the exercises with Japan were held on international waters.
He added that port visits by foreign troops are not prohibited.
“All these activities [with Japan]are governed by policies and other laws that we need to be mindful of before we commit to certain activities that Japan and the Philippines would like to pursue in the future,” Padilla explained.
The two countries, conducted last month the so-called conduct of code for unplanned encounters at sea or CUES, followed by the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response, Maritime Search and Rescue, and Maritime Situational Awareness.
Prior to the drills, two Japanese destroyers—JS Harusame and JS Amigiri—carrying around 600 sailors docked in Manila and participated in what the Navy termed as passing exercise with Philippine Navy ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF16).
The Alliance of Concern Teachers led by Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio asked the SC to declare as unconstitutional a memorandum on defense cooperation and a joint declaration providing for the joint military exercises between the two countries.