THE Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday upheld the constitutionality of the controversial Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed between the Philippines and the United States, finally putting to rest all questions on the legality of the accord.
Voting 10-4, the High Court gave credence to Malacañang’s argument that EDCA is an executive agreement thus, it need not be ratified by the Senate.
“As it is, EDCA is not constitutionally infirm. As an executive agreement, it remains consistent with existing laws and treaties that it purports to implement,” the tribunal said through a ruling written by Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno.
It also upheld the President’s power to enter into executive agreements.
“No court can tell the President to desist from choosing an executive agreement over a treaty to embody an international agreement, unless the case falls squarely within Article XVIII, Sec 25,” the court ruled.
“The President must be given a larger measure of authority and wider discretion, subject only to the least amount of checks and restrictions under the Constitution,” it added.
Only 14 justices voted since Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza recused himself because he handled the case when he was the Solicitor General.
Those who concurred with Sereno were Justices Antonio Carpio, Presbitero Velasco Jr., Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano Del Castillo, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes and Martin Villarama Jr.
Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Marvic Leonen dissented.
The US embassy in Manila welcomed the verdict.
“EDCA is a mutually beneficial agreement that will enhance our ability to provide rapid humanitarian assistance and help build capacity for the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” the embassy said in a statement.
EDCA, a 10-year agreement signed in 2014, but not implemented due to legal challenges, will see more US troops rotate through the Philippines for war games and help their hosts build military facilities.