MANILA, Philippines—Two senators have raised an alarm over the Philippines’ plan to allow the United States and other allies “temporary access” to its military bases, one saying it might be a violation of the Constitution.
“Technically, I think it may be a violation of the Constitution,” Senator Gringo Honasan said in a text message on Friday.
“But if our national interest and security are at stake, we have limited choices because we are still a developing country at the mercy of and dependent on powers like the US and China,” he said.
Honasan said the “temporary access” might be a violation of the 1987 Constitution, which prohibits foreign military bases in the country.
Despite this, the senator said he would back the plan if only to stop China from “bullying” the Philippines on the issue of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“For practical purposes, our national security is an urgent matter given the fact that China is not moving away. It’s only with the US that China could be cowed,” Honasan said in Filipino in a phone interview.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said the Department of National Defense should exercise prudence by consulting first the Senate.
“There is a wide gray of area of interpreting the planned move of allowing temporary access to our military bases by the US and other allies. Having said that, the DND should exercise prudence by at least consulting the senators on the matter,” Lacson said in a separate text message.
“After all, the Senate is mandated by the Constitution to ratify bilateral agreements between our country and another and using temporary access as technicality to go around that constitutional does not speak well of the defense department,” he further said.