Two members of the 1991 Senate that voted No to US bases question EDCA before the SC
Former Senators Rene A. V. Saguisag and Wigberto E. Tañada will file with the Supreme Court today a petition questioning the validity of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the government of the Philippines and the United States.
Saguisag and Tañada, it could be recalled, are among the “magnificent twelve” senators led by Senator Jovito Salonga who voted to kick the US military bases out of the Philippines in 1991.
Joining them in the Petition are former UP President, Dr. Francisco “Dodong” Nemenzo Jr., Dean Pacifico A. Agabin, Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Atty. Steve Salonga who is a son of former Senate President Jovito R. Salonga, lawyers Harry Roque, Evalyn Ursua and Edre Olalia, Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo and Dr. Roland Simbulan, and former Representative Teddy Casiño of Bayan.
The EDCA is being touted as a mere implementation of policies enshrined in the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the US and the Philippines.
The Petitioners, who are represented in the case by the Center for International Law, however argue that even so, it has no legal leg to stand on because the MDT has already been superseded by the 1987 Constitution which renounces war as a national policy.
For the first time, the constitutionality of the MDT itself is now being challenged before the High Court.
The EDCA also violates the ban on nuclear weapons in the country set in place by the 1987 Charter and deprives the Supreme Court of its constitutional prerogatives to review its constitutionality, according to their 65-page petition.
They also highlight the many disadvantages that the EDCA provides. Finally, the Petitioners argue that the EDCA is a treaty, and therefore requires Senate concurrence.
“Not only is the EDCA a violation of the Philippine Constitution,” the Petitioners said in their petition, “ 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.”
It would be remembered that in 1991, Senators Saguisag and Tañada, along with the ten another Senators led by then Senate President Salonga, rejected a proposed treaty would have extended the presence of the US military bases in the country for at least another 10 years.
The Petitioners say that the EDCA, which allows the US 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, grants the Americans carta blanche power to establish and operate de facto military bases anywhere on Philippine soil, minus the cost of paying for one.
According to them, the terms and provisions of the EDCA are clearly lop-sided 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.