Trillanes says senators briefed about new military accord with US | Global News

Trillanes says senators briefed about new military accord with US

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Senators were briefed almost at every turn on how the new PH-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement was taking shape, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said Tuesday.

Trillanes, the chair of the Senate committee on national defense, made the statement in the wake of criticism at the apparent lack of transparency in the negotiations.


“The Senate defense committee was extensively briefed at the start of the negotiations. It was attended by a few senators but the others sent their representatives,” Trillanes told the Inquirer. “Aside from this, after every round of negotiations, all the senators were apprised by the government panel of its status to include the minutes of the meetings.”

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said Monday that the Senate had yet to receive a copy of the EDCA, which allows US forces access to Philippine bases and the increases the presence of US troops in the country.


“I feel as if I have been slapped or ordered to melt into the wallpaper,” Santiago was quoted as saying about the Senate not being given a copy of the deal.

Santiago is the chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations, the panel that has jurisdiction on proposed treaties with other countries.  Treaties need to be ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Senate.

“Let’s just say that the initial briefing was sometime in August last year and the status updates came in almost every month,” Trillanes said. “Now, if senators feel these are not enough, then they can request for an individual briefing from the DND  panel of negotiators.”

Contrary to Santiago’s view that the EDCA was not a mere executive agreement but a treaty that should be scrutinized and concurred in by the Senate, Trillanes said the new pact’s provisions were already covered by existing treaties between the Philippines and the US.

“[As] to the issue of Senate concurrence, I believe it is not needed because, as far as I know, there are no new concepts being introduced that are not part of the [Visiting Forces Agreement] and [the Mutual Defense Treaty],” Trillanes said.

“Having said that, anybody can raise this issue to the SC (Supreme Court) for its disposition,” Trillanes added.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III,  chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said the new agreement was a strong deterrent to  provocative or hostile acts in the West Philippine Sea.


Pimentel said the EDCA, which was signed on Monday just hours before US President Barrack Obama arrived for a state visit, “would help ensure the enforcement of international law in the region.”

“The pact covers a full range of defense cooperation and increased rotational presence of US troops, which would particularly enhance regional collective responsibility in controlling transnational crimes such as illegal drugs and human trafficking, among others,” Pimentel said.

“This would boost our drive against illegal drugs; we’ve been alarmed by the increasing presence of foreign nationals that have established their operation in the Philippines,” he added. “This has to be stopped, because illegal drugs not only destroy the future of our youths but they destroy the social fabric and lead to a host of other criminal acts.”


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