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America has urgent need for the Edca

/ 12:10 AM February 04, 2016

The Inquirer’s Jan. 14 editorial “Realpolitik” and its story “SC allows more US forces to base here” (Front Page, 1/13/15) said it all: The Supreme Court decision upholding the validity of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) is more “political” than “legal.”

The truth is Edca is urgently needed by America for its “pivot” to Asia-Pacific—not for the US forces, with its awesome air and naval capabilities, to monitor supertyphoons and to help us in disaster-mitigation.

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The truth is, China has become aggressive in the West Philippine Sea precisely because of the increasing presence or hegemony of the United States in the region.

The truth is, the executive violated the 1987 Constitution and jurisprudence to accommodate America soonest—through a mere executive agreement instead of a treaty.

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The Supreme Court ruling upholds Edca. The majority ruled that the “instrument” that paves the way for US “bases” (locations), “troops” and “facilities” is the US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which implements the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States. This is not totally true. US “troops” are authorized under the VFA, but for “visits” or “Balikatan exercises” only;  “locations” (bases) and “facilities” are outside the purview of the VFA.

The MDT, on the other hand, deals with (mutual) defense of the parties, “to repel a common danger,” in case of an attack on “metropolitan” territories of the Philippines,  or its armed forces, public vessels and aircraft in the Pacific.

US “bases” and “troops” were, of course, agreed upon in the 1947 Military Bases Agreement (MBA), which was terminated in September 1991—as agreed on by the Philippines and the United States.  But the MBA replacement, the infamous 1991 Manglapus-Wisner treaty, was resoundingly rejected  in 1991 by the Senate headed by Jovito Salonga.

The Salonga Senate’s victory against foreign military bases reaffirmened  the state policy in Article XVIII, Section 25 of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that, without a treaty concurred in by the Senate, “foreign military bases, troops, or facilities” are banned in our archipelago.

The 1987 Constitution clearly proscribes any treaty or intentional agreement, “without the concurrence of the Senate” (Article VII, Section 21). Thus, the Edca is a constitutional nullity. As pointed out in the Inquirer editorial, the Senate concurrence could or should have been secured. Without such concurrence, Edca is a “grave abuse of discretion” or worse, a cold “realpolitik” miscalculation.

Indeed, the Aquino administration violated the Constitution, specifically, Article VII, Section 21 and Article XVIII, Section 25, and jurisprudence (Gonzales vs. Hechonova, 1964).

The Supreme Court, understandably, appears Charter-blind. Only a politically colored ruling could validate the Edca. The Supreme Court has “ratified” Edca.

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—NELSON D. LAVIÑA, retired ambassador, [email protected]

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TAGS: China, Constitution, Edca, Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, United States, West Philippine Sea
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