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Tanada, Saguisag: New bases agreement ‘lopsided’

Posted On 2014 May 28
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Ex-senators ask SC to strike down EDCA

An MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft takes off from the flight deck of the USS Bonhomme Richard during aviation operations exercises in the East China Sea, April 23, 2014. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam D. Wainwright

An MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft takes off from the flight deck of the USS Bonhomme Richard during aviation operations exercises in the East China Sea, April 23, 2014. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam D. Wainwright

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Two former senators who voted against the US bases in the country in the early 90s on Monday asked the Supreme Court to strike down the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the US.

In their 65-page petition, former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada claimed the terms and provisions of the EDCA are clearly “lopsided in favor of the Americans, leaving the Philippines with nothing more than empty promises of support in the event of a Chinese invasion of Philippine territories in the West Philippine Sea.”

Under the EDCA, the US will be allowed to build structures, store as well as preposition 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 petitioners said the EDCA would grant the US “carta blanche power to establish and operate de facto military bases anywhere on Philippine soil, minus the cost of paying for one.”

They also said the agreement would be a mere implementation of policies enshrined in the PHL-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) – a treaty whose constitutionality is being challenged for the first time before the high court with Saguisag and Tañada’s petition.

Saguisag and Tañada were among the “magnificent twelve” senators led by former Senate President Jovito Salonga who voted to remove the US military bases in the country in 1991.

President Benigno Aquino III has already expressed confidence that the EDCA, signed in April in time for US President Barack Obama’s visit to Manila, can stand legal scrutiny even if it is challenged before the Supreme Court.

He said the panel which negotiated the agreement consistently reported to him and ensured that the deal adheres with the Philippine Constitution.

But according to the petitioners, the EDCA has “no legal leg to stand on because the MDT has already been superseded by the 1987 Constitution which renounces war as a national policy.”

No long-term benefit

Saguisag and Tañada also said EDCA is not only unconstitutional, “it also does not provide any substantial, long-term real benefit, much less distinct advantage or improvement in our position vis-à-vis the United States.”

They also said EDCA violates the country’s ban on nuclear weapons set in place by the 1987 Constitution and “deprives the Supreme Court of its constitutional prerogatives to review its constitutionality.”

Saguisag and Tañada also argued that the EDCA is a treaty, and therefore requires Senate concurrence.

Joining them in the petition are former UP President Francisco “Dodong” Nemenzo Jr., Dean Pacifico Agabin, Sister Mary John Mananzan, lawyer Steve Salonga who is a son of the former Senate President, lawyers Harry Roque, Evalyn Ursua and Edre Olalia, Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo and Dr. Roland Simbulan, and  former party-list representative Teddy Casiño. (MNS)

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