SC rejects appeal, reaffirms Edca
THE SUPREME Court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal to its ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) as an executive agreement that seeks to implement existing treaties between the Philippines and the United States to boost defense and security cooperation.
The decision was issued hours before the scheduled arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry who is expected to discuss strengthening military cooperation with Philippine officials amid China’s defiant stand to push its massive military buildup in the South China Sea despite an arbitral tribunal decision declaring its historic rights over the disputed waters as illegal.
The court, voting 9-4, denied the motion for reconsideration filed last February by former Sen. Rene Saguisag and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) that questioned the court’s decision on Jan. 12, 2016, declaring the constitutionality of Edca.
In a briefer, the court said petitioners failed to present new arguments to boost their claims that Edca is a treaty that needs Senate concurrence.
The court’s resolution penned by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno argued that “Edca did not go beyond the framework.”
“The entry of US troops has long been authorized under a valid and subsisting treaty, which is the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” said the court resolution, adding “reading the VFA along with the longstanding Mutual Defense Treaty led this Court to the conclusion that an executive agreement such as the Edca was well within the bounds of the obligations imposed by both treaties.”
The court also criticized the petitioners in citing US practices, ineffective provisions or even absent provisions to prove Edca was invalid. It said the petitioners were asking the Court to replace the prerogative of the political branches and rescind Edca for not being a good deal.
“Unfortunately, the Court’s only concern is the legality of Edca and not its wisdom and folly; their remedy clearly belongs to the executive or legislative branches of the government,” it said.
Malacañang welcomed the decision.
“The court of last resort has spoken: The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement is constitutional. The Supreme Court’s decision upholding Edca’s legality hopes to increase the interoperability of our armed forces and contribute to its modernization,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said.
With the court’s ruling, the palace also expects better coordination with the United States on humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.
“We likewise remain confident that through this military cooperation we would improve our joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts,” he said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the ruling was unfortunate.
“It is ironic that, just recently, the Philippines won its case against China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea. Yet, through this lopsided agreement entered by former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, the country will once again be tied ad infinitum to the expansionist and hegemonist US policy, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Zarate in a statement. With a report from Leila B. Salaverria
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