PH-Japan war drill unconstitutional; there’s no treaty
The joint military drills between the Philippines and Japan in Palawan province are unconstitutional and a violation of Philippine sovereignty, a party-list lawmaker said on Tuesday.
ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio called for a halt to the joint exercises, noting the absence of a Senate-ratified treaty with Japan allowing the presence of Japanese troops in Philippine territory.
“President Aquino is committing a gross and blatant violation of the constitutional prohibition on foreign troops in allowing the joint exercises with Japanese military forces,” Tinio said in a statement.
He cited reports of a Japanese P-3C Orion reconnaissance plane taking off from an airfield in Palawan and doing surveillance flight over the disputed Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea.
Under the Constitution, the presence of foreign military forces in the Philippine territory is prohibited unless authorized by a treaty ratified by the Senate, Tinio said.
No treaty with Japan
“The Philippines has no existing treaty with Japan allowing the presence of their troops in our country, much less the holding of joint military exercises and conducting Japanese reconnaissance missions from Philippine installations,” he said.
Tinio said existing agreements with Japan did not fulfill the constitutional requirement of a Senate-ratified treaty and therefore could not be cited as legal basis for Japanese military activities in the Philippines.
Tinio was referring to the memorandum on defense cooperation and exchanges signed by the Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and his Japanese counterpart in January, and to the declaration for a strengthened strategic partnership signed by President Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month.
“By all means, our territory must be defended against Chinese encroachment in the West Philippine Sea. But this must be done without surrendering national sovereignty and within the bounds of the Constitution,” Tinio said.
He also said the President’s “endorsement” of Japanese militarism was reprehensible, considering the country’s experience under brutal Japanese occupation during World War II.
“A policy of self-reliance and neutrality is the only way for the Philippines to achieve a peaceful resolution to the South China Sea crisis,” Tinio said.
“The Aquino administration’s policy of relying on the US and Japan will only lead to further subservience, dependency, and an intensification of tensions in the region,” he said.
He said he would file a resolution calling for a House investigation of Japanese military activities in the Philippines.
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