With decision on Edca, legacy gone too soon
DIVORCED FROM history, the Supreme Court’s decision on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) fails to address the stark reality that President Aquino has committed a serious breach and violation of the Constitution.
In affirming that the President can pursue the Edca as an executive agreement, instead of a treaty subject to Senate concurrence, the Court committed an egregious error. Clear provisions of the Constitution were disregarded in favor of a stretched-out argument to expand the powers of the president. The decision lacks legitimacy, especially in light of the Senate’s demand to submit the Edca for deliberation by the legislature. Neither the Court nor the executive has the power and authority to monopolize the discussion on the presence of foreign military personnel and their war weapons and bases. The Constitution clearly accorded unto the Senate, in representation of the Filipino people, the power to decide on the return of foreign military bases.
Worse, the Edca decision slavishly adheres to a textual interpretation, ignoring relevant colonial historical and contemporary events in its interpretation of the intersecting pertinent provisions of the Constitution, the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement, on the one hand, and the Edca on the other, and the respective provisions of these international agreements as between themselves. It concludes that US-Philippine security relations are equal, eschewing history and relations even as recent as the Pemberton case.
Submersed in delusion and dreams, the Edca majority decision is countered by three strongly worded dissents that supported the patent fact that the United States will be bringing in the old military bases, extra-powerful GI Joes and its wars unto our shores. If the Court does not reverse its decision on the Edca, we will repeat the errors and horrors of our experience with military bases.
Even if on the pretext that we are calling in a bully—a greedy and giddy one at that—to scare off another bully, the Edca decision is wide off the mark. We cannot expect the United States to fly to our side the moment confrontations escalate to defend our home front. No such promise has been made, nor will be fulfilled.
As it seems, the magnificent legacy of the Senate in 1991 is gone too soon. For as this quote from the movie “Heneral Luna” warns: “May mas malaki tayong kalaban sa mga Amerikano—ang ating sarili (We have a bigger enemy than the Americans—ourselves).”
—RACHEL PASTORES, counsel for Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) et al., and managing counsel, Public Interest Law Center
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