Militant solons tear Edca paper during House hearing
MANILA, Philippines—Militant lawmakers on Wednesday literally tore the recently signed deal for increased American troops presence in front of defense and foreign officials.
The lawmakers tore their copies of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) during a committee hearing attended by government panel members Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino and Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya.
The panel negotiated with US officials for the signing of the agreement that seeks to implement the other deals with the US, such as the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement.
ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio denounced the deal as a breach of national sovereignty, saying it will bring back foreign bases despite a constitutional ban.
“It is embarrassing that the executive agreed to the wordings of the deal,” Tinio declared in Filipino, specifically referring to the deal’s provision that said the Philippines may grant the US’ request for access in the country’s roads, ports and airports as stated in the deal.
He added that Edca is a “challenge of the Philippines’ sovereignty (“pagsubok sa soberanya).”
Tinio was joined in tearing the Edca by Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, as well as Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon.
As a response, Batino said the deal is worded in “soft language” and that it would not breach on national sovereignty.
He added that the Philippines can deny the US their request for access.
Colmenares said they would file a petition questioning the Edca’s constitutionality before the Supreme Court this week.
Below are the important provisions of the agreement:
- It gives the United States access to “agreed locations,” mostly Philippine military facilities, for security cooperation exercises, joint training, etc. US forces may also use these locations for bunkering of vessels, refueling of aircraft, temporary accommodation of personnel, prepositioning of equipment and supplies, etc.
- The locations will be used by US forces without rental or similar costs. However, payment for the use of water, electricity and other public utilities will be shared “pro rata.”
- US will be allowed “operational control” of agreed locations. They may also make “alterations and improvements” to the facilities. US forces and US contractors “shall have unimpeded access to agreed locations” for the storage of defense equipment, supplies and prepositioned materiel.
- The Philippines will retain ownership of the locations. However, the US may use permanent buildings it has constructed until it is no longer required by its forces. The parties will agree on the terms of return of any of the agreed locations, including “possible compensation for improvements or construction.”
- Resolution of disputes on the Edca shall be resolved between the two countries. It “shall not be referred to any national or international court, tribunal, or other similar body, or to any third party for settlement, unless otherwise agreed by the Parties.”
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