Group renews call to SC to junk EDCA | Global News
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Group renews call to SC to junk EDCA

/ 08:17 PM December 17, 2014

MANILA, Philippines – Petitioners against the Philippines-United States Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) on Wednesday reiterated their call to the Supreme Court to nullify the agreement, which they have described as “lopsided” in favor of the US.

In a 146-page memorandum, petitioners said EDCA does not promote the national interest.

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Petitioners took note of the fact that the agreement hews closely to the 1947 Military Bases Agreement (MBA) and its provisions also extended to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

In fact, the petitioners said, EDCA has put the country in worst position than in the MBA.

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“Under the EDCA, the US forces are without restriction as to the choice of contractor, supplier or person.” In the MBA, petitioners said courtesy was given to the Philippines for approval.

Under the EDCA, the petitioners said aside from the US military forces, civilian contractors from US are also allowed to enter the country.

“Under EDCA, US forces may contract for the delivery of material, supplies, equipment and the undertaking of services including construction in the territory of the Philippines without restriction…These American contractors are given nearly equal status as US forces in terms of unimpeded access to facilities,” the memorandum of petitioners further stated.

“Rather, it was hatched to protect US economic and security interests and maintain US global power projection and military superiority at a lower cost,” the memorandum stated.

The petitioners added that EDCA as an executive agreement is a “false designation” by the government.

“Indeed, the fundamental law’s strict general prohibition against foreign military presence must not be swept aside through invocation of mere artifices in names and myths that hide actual facts and dispute historical context,” the memorandum further stated.

The pleading said it was a “myth” to say the EDCA would only allow temporary or rotational presence of American troops in the country, and that the Philippines would have operational control of locations where they would be granted access.

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On the contrary, the petitioners said, the pact granted US troops superiority over Philippine forces in areas where they would establish presence.

“In granting “operational control” and authority to exercise “all rights and authorities” within the agreed locations, the respondents allowed the Philippine forces to be subordinate to the US forces,” the memorandum read.

The pleading, which summarized the petitioners’ contentions against the defense pact following oral arguments on Nov. 18 and 25, again called on the court to nullify EDCA because it violates the Constitution, saying it came in the form of a treaty but was signed without Senate concurrence.

“…[A]ll international agreements, treaties and executive agreements, are not valid and effective except if these instruments are concurred in by the Senate,” it said, citing Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s earlier statements calling for the chamber’s review of the agreement.

Signed in April, the EDCA grants greater US access to Philippine military facilities for an initial term of 10 years. Under the pact, the US may construct military installations and store war material in “agreed locations” in the Philippines, and upon the country’s permission.

The petitioners include former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tanada who were among 12 Senators who voted to kick the US military bases out of the country in 1991, militant umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) as well as its allied lawmakers, artists, lawyers, and representatives from the religious and the academe.

On the other hand, respondents include Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Armed Forces Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista and members of the Philippine negotiating panel.

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