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Govt panel: EDCA is constitutional, can stand

legal scrutiny
By KIMBERLY JANE TAN, GMA NewsMay 8, 2014 1:57pm
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Members of the government panel which negotiated the terms of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement
(EDCA) on Thursday said the deal will stand legal scrutiny even if it is challenged before the Supreme Court.

During a press conference at the Palace, Defense Undersectary Pio Lorenzo Batino said the panel was very
"mindful" during negotiations that the EDCA may face legal challenges after its signing.

"This pushed us to even negotiate even more vigorously for language that would be defensible under the Philippine
Constitution and under relevant laws," he said.

He issued the statement after groups and inviduals, among them Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares, said
they will be challenging EDCA before the SC.

But Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Eduardo Malaya, also a member of the panel, said they are confident the
deal was constitutional because they had with them during negotiations people from the Department of Justice.

"A member of our negotiating panel is Undersecretary Francisco Baraan of the Department of Justice. He is assisted
by a senior lawyer in that department, who specializes in international law, and therefore, all through the negotiations
we have been guided by the Department of Justice," he said.

He also said they worked hard so that the country's interest can be "pursued and protected."

"This agreement is mutually beneficial and that theres ample legal and constitutional support for the provisions that
are now reflected in this defense cooperation agreement which we have with the United States," he said.

EDCA was signed last Monday, hours before US President Barack Obama arrived in the Philippines for his first state
visit.

The agreement grants US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities, the right to construct facilities, and
pre-position equipment, aircraft and vessels.

Batino, however, said EDCA is just an implementing agreement of treaties already established between the US and
the Philippines, namely the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

He said the MDT "obliges" both the Philippines and the US to defend one another in case of external armed attack.
He also said it has a provision which states the two countries should maintain and develop their "individual and
collective capacity for mutual defense."

It is for this reason, he said, that the two countries have been conducting joint training exercises for the past 15 years
or so.
Joker questions constitutionality of
EDCA
By Christina M. Mendez (philstar.com) | Updated April 29, 2014 - 5:43pm
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MANILA, Philippines - Former Sen. Joker Arroyo questioned on Tuesday the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense
Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) that the Philippines and the United States signed on Monday hours before US President Barrack
Obama visited the country.
What did the Philippines get out of the Obama visit? Zero. Analyze it, Arroyo said.
Arroyo also criticized Malacanang for leaving the Philippine Senate in the blind over the new agreement.
We rushed to sign the EDCA as a gift to President Obama, signed by our Defense Secretary and the US Ambassador that would
allow more American troops in the Philippines, he said.
No one, but no one was consulted about its constitutionality or participated in its preparation. It was exclusively Malacaang
directed, said Arroyo, who was among the senators who voted for the close down of the US bases in Olongapo, Zambales in 1992.
Rather than the rhetorics, Arroyo said he was expecting that the US government to warn China that it will back the Philippines
should Chinese troops harass local fishermen and troops stationed at the disputed West Philippine Sea.
Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
What did we get in exchange? Heaping shibboleths on Americas 'longest ally,' President Obama also praised the culinary skills of
the White House Filipino Executive Chef.
It was hoped that he would say, at least, that in case Filipino fishermen and Navy supplies go to the disputed islands and the China
Maritime Fleet fires at or harasses them, America will strongly caution China so that we dont get embroiled in a shooting war, he
added.
Arroyo also called on the Defense Department and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to look into the 1914 War Plan
Orange No. III prepared by the US War Department.
The 1914 War Plan, according to Arroyo, outlined Americas defense of the Philippines in case the latter is invaded. It was
unearthed in the research of the Civil Liberties Union (Jose Diokno, Lorenzo Taada, JBL Reyes, Calixto Zaldivar and J. Antonio
Araneta, officers), which opposed the extensions of the US Bases, which was to expire in 1977 during the martial law years.
Arroyo also recalled history when the Philippines merely became a buffer zone for US troops when Japanese troops invaded the
country during World War II.
True enough, when the Japanese invaded the Philippines after Pearl Harbor, the US followed exactly the strategy as outlined by
the US War Department, the former senator said.
He pointed out that there was, in fact, no strategy for the defense of the Philippines except to treat us as a buffer to delay the
invaders southward advance. It saved Australia but not the Philippines, Arroyo noted.
Apart from the heaps of gifts showing admiration to Obama, Arroyo said the Aquino administration also released that Social
Weather Station (SWS) survey showing the trust rating of Filipinos for the US president.
SWS gifted Mr. Obama with a survey 85 percent of Filipinos trust the US. In his four-nation tour, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia
and the Philippines, our country was tops in gift-giving, Arroyo added.
Arroyos criticism came hours after President Obama ended his Asia tour with pitch for alliance.
On Monday, Sen.Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, also slammed the EDCA after
senators were blind-sided on the matter.
This is an unfair surprise on the Philippine Senate which, under the Constitution, shares the treaty-making power with the
President, Santiago said.
As the head of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Santiago said it was expected that any such agreement would be
signed by the two presidents.
I have argued that such an agreement should first be submitted for concurrence to the Senate, she said, adding that there was no
hint that the agreement has been downgraded, for signature not by the two Presidents, but only by the defense secretary and the
American ambassador in Manila.
This contretemps does not indicate good faith on the part of the two presidents. The use of guile in diplomacy should be limited to
state-to-state situations, and should not include a situation involving only two branches of the same government, Santiago said.
Goldberg assures PHL of Edcas constitutionality


Details

Category: Nation
29 Jun 2014

Written by Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz
UNITED States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg over the weekend assured the public that the Enhanced Defense
Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the Philippines and the US would be used to secure the countrys sovereignty and integrity without
violating Philippine Constitution.
During a Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) regular meeting, Goldberg said Edca would help the Philippines establish a
minimum credible defense in the West Philippine Sea following the continued territorial dispute with China.
Philconsa is headed by Lakas Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte.
The Edcawhich seeks to expand US military activity in the Philippines through increased rotational presence and the use of extant
Philippine military baseswill have a timeframe of 10 years, which means that it will be in effect until April 2024.
Goldberg assured the Philconsa that Edca would not violate the Constitution and cater to mutual Philippine and US interests.
I know the importance of this organization [Philconsa] but mostly I know the importance of the constitutional law in any society, in any
democratic society and the need to follow the Constitution to be able to have a just and free society, Goldberg said, adding Edca would pass
a constitutionality test after some groups questioned its legality before the Supreme Court (SC).
Applications are to be determined through mutual consent and locations and at sizes that are mutually beneficial and to be decided together
through the mutual defense word and through discussions. Nothing will be done without the consent of the Philippine government, Goldberg
said.
On Friday Kilusang Mayo Uno and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees joined the clamor
for the SC to scrap the newly signed Edca for being unconstitutional.
Goldberg said Edca was an executive agreement and does not need Senate ratification because there would be no US military bases to be
established.
It as an executive agreement and no US bases are coming back to the Philippines, said Goldberg, adding that Edca will help boost the
countrys territorial defense.
Edca aims to help the Philippines create a military that is able to create a credible minimum defense, maritime security and maritime domain
awareness, he said.
Romualdez said he was satisfied on how Goldberg explained to them the contents of Edca during the groups regular membership meeting.
Romualdez, a lawyer, said the cardinal duty of the government is to guarantee the security and safety of its sovereignty under the
Constitution.
Anything that goes for securing the country will supersede any other technical and legal infirmities that may seemingly pose. The ultimate
goal of the Constitution is to secure the nation, anything that lends itself to that, we are quite supportive of, Romualdez said.
Philconsa is the oldest association of the countrys legal luminaries whose main objective is to defend, protect and preserve the Constitution.
Lawyer Manuel Lazaro, Philconsa chairman and CEO, agreed with Romualdez, saying that securing the countrys sovereignty is the prime
duty of the government and the citizens under Article II of the Constitution.
To question Edca for alleged non-observance or violation of Section 25, Article XVIII of the Constitution prohibiting foreign military bases,
troops or facilities, except under a treaty concurred in by the Senate, is to sire a constitutional collision with the imminent or cardinal duty of
the government and its citizens to secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of its national territory, Lazaro said.