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Supreme Court upholds

Published January 12, 2016 2:14pm
Updated January 12, 2016 8:47pm

The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Enhanced

Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the
United States.
In its first en banc session for the year, the high tribunal affirmed
the validity of the pact that provided for the increased rotational
presence of US troops in the country.
The EDCA was upheld by a vote of 10 in favor, four against and one
taking no part.
Those who dissented to the majority ruling were associate justices
Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, Estela Perlas-Bernabe,
and Marvic Leonen.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has written a concurring
opinion while De Castro, Brion, and Leonen wrote their respective
dissenting opinions.
Under the agreement negotiated by President Benigno Aquino III's
government, the US will be allowed to build structures, store as well
as pre-position weapons, defense supplies and materiel, station
troops, civilian personnel and defense contractors, transit and
station vehicles, vessels, and aircraft for a period of 10 years.

The constitutionality of the pact was upheld amid an ongoing

dispute between the Philippines and China due to overlapping
claims in the South China Sea.
It also comes just as the foreign and defense chiefs of the
Philippines and the United States will hold a meeting in Washington
next week. The two sides will discuss all fronts of the two countries
relations, specifically economic, political, security and defense
The US has also expressed its opposition to China's claims in the
disputed waters, citing the need for freedom of navigation in the
China's claims, based on a unilateral nine-dash-line map, is now the
subject of a Philippine case before the Permanent Court of
Arbitration in The Hague.
Not a treaty
SC spokesman Theodore Te said the high court upheld the
agreement's constitutionality "on the ground of Article 18, Section
25 of the Constitution, which allows the President to enter in an
executive agreement on foreign military bases if it is not an
instrument that allows foreign military bases or it aims to implement
existing law or treaty holding that EDCA is one such agreement."
"As it is, EDCA is not constitutionally infirm. As an executive
agreement, it remains consistent with existing laws and treaties that
it purports to implement," said the SC in a ruling penned by Chief
Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The SC ruled that the President had the power to enter into
executive agreements, which the tribunal said are "different from
treaties. This is well-recognized and long upheld by the court."

The high court stressed that the defense pact "is not the instrument
that allows troops to enter, as the Visiting Forces Agreement has
already done that."
The tribunal disagreed with the Senate's position that the EDCA
should have first been submitted to the Senate in the form of a
treaty for concurrence by at least two-thirds of all its members.
"The EDCA provides for arrangements to implement existing treaties
allowing entry of foreign military troops or facilities under the VFA
and the [Mutual Defense Treaty], and thus may be in the form of an
executive agreement solely within the powers of the President and
not requiring Senate concurrence under Article XVIII, Sec. 25," read
the decision.
The SC said no court can tell the President to desist from choosing
an executive agreement over a treaty to embody an international
"Rather, in view of the vast constitutional powers and prerogatives
granted to the President in the field of foreign affairs, the task of the
Court is to determine whether the international agreement is
consistent with the applicable limitations," it added.
The SC said the President has the option to choose the form of an
agreement other than through a treaty, provided that the
agreement dealing with foreign military bases, troops or facilities is
not the principal agreement that first allowed the entry or presence
in the Philippines.
Likewise, the executive agreement must be consistent with the
Constitution, as well as with existing laws and treaties.

The SC said the respondents in the case succeeded in "discharging

the burden to show that [the EDCA] is a mere implementation of
existing laws and treaties concurred in by the Senate."
- See more at:

Pls refer to Saiguisag vs Ochoa Jr. (January 12, 2016)

GR 212426
-this will help for Jurisprudence