SC to call for oral arguments on Edca ‘soon’
MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said the Supreme Court will soon call for an oral argument over questions about the legality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).
“We will be issuing a ruling very soon. We are going to have an oral argument,” Sereno said Thursday during the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) forum at Marco Polo Hotel in Ortigas.
The government has said that President Benigno Aquino III entered into the agreement with the US because it was his constitutional duty to protect the State as its commander-in-chief.
“The President, through the DND (Department of National Defense), entered into the Edca to perform his primary constitutional duty to promote national security interests. Under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, the President, as head of State and chief representative of government, has the “prime duty to serve and protect the people,” read the pleading.
“The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which is constitutionally designated as “the protector of the people and the State,” said the nine-member OSG panel on the case led by Acting Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.
Hilbay said the President also approved the Edca to implement pre-existing treaties, including the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the Visiting Forces Agreement.
“What the EDCA does is to enhance the existing contractual security apparatus between the Philippines and the US, set up through the MDT and the VFA. It is the duty of the Honorable Court to allow this security apparatus enough breathing space to respond to perceived, anticipated, and actual exigencies.”
Hilbay pointed out that the agreement was significant in addressing the country’s external and internal security concerns. Inviting the Supreme Court to consider the “international platform of politics” as well as “recent events within Philippine territory”.
Hilbay argued that the Edca was one of the security measures necessary “to achieve a minimum credible defense to the manifold security concerns in the West Philippine Sea.”
When asked what the VFA says about custody of a US Marine who committed a crime in the Philippines, Sereno said: “I cannot say what the VFA say. It will be debated very soon.”
The VFA and the Edca are under scrutiny following the death of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, a transgender, in the hands of a US Marine, Private First Class’s Joseph Scott Pemberton in Olongapo City last Saturday, October 5.
Before the incident, questions about the constitutionality of the VFA and Edca have been raised.
Leading the petitioners against Edca are former Senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tanada, among 12 Senators who voted to kick out the US military bases out of the country in 1991.
The signing of the Edca, which has an initial term of 10 years, between the Philippines and the US coincided with the visit of US President Barack Obama on April 28 as part of his four-nation Asian tour.
Originally posted: 12:34 pm | Thursday, October 16th, 2014
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