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Edca a ‘devious ploy’

12:03 AM January 20, 2016

In declaring the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) constitutional, the Supreme Court bowed to strong pressure for more massive, more permanent US presence in Asia-Pacific.

Despite clear provisions in the Philippine Constitution—Article 18, Section 25—barring any foreign military bases, troops or facilities in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate, the Supreme Court used a roundabout argument to allow US military presence in the Philippines by way of a mere presidential prerogative.

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Ruling that Edca is merely an implementing agreement hinged on previous treaties, the Supreme Court missed the historical and legal opportunity to assert afresh Philippine sovereignty over Philippine territory. The Court sidestepped the main argument: Edca, so different from the Mutual Defense Treaty or the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), enables the United States to set up military bases anew in the Philippines.

US troops entering the Philippines through VFA are now entitled, under Edca, to operate within and openly control pockets of our territory. And as in the case of convicted felon US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, their welfare and interests will come before our own. When they flout Philippine laws, there is too little the Philippine government can do for their victims like Nicole, Jennifer Laude and Juan dela Cruz.

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This is indignantly disappointing, more so, that the high court pitted two branches of our government against each other when it handed power that belongs to the Senate over to the President. Ultimately, the Supreme Court decision protects US interests in the Philippines, at the expense of our own.

Statements that Philippine defense and disaster-response capabilities are enhanced by Edca have largely been exposed as devious ploys to compel support not only for US military presence in the Philippines but also for US wars around the world.

—RACHEL PASTORES, managing counsel, Public Interest Law Center

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TAGS: Constitution, Edca, Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, Joseph Scott Pemberton, mutual defense treaty, Visiting Forces Agreement
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