MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, July 26, upheld the constitutionality of the military deal between the Philippines and the United States, affirming its earlier decision issued in January declaring the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) constitutional.
Voting 9-4, the High Court junked the separate motions for reconsideration filed by former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada, Kilusang Mayo Uno and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), and other party-list groups.
The SC said the petitioners merely rehashed their old arguments in challenging the its earlier ruling.
“Petitioners do not present new arguments to buttress their claims of error on the part of this Court. They have rehashed their prior arguments and made them responsive to the structure of the decision…yet the points being made are the same,” the SC said.
On January 12, the SC ruled that the EDCA is an executive agreement and does not need the Senate’s concurrence.
Signed in April 2014, the military deal gives US troops increased rotational presence in Philippine military bases, and allows the US to build facilities to store fuel and equipment there.
Critics have assailed the agreement, arguing that EDCA should be considered a treaty that would need Senate approval.
Petitioners before the SC argued that the government committed grave abuse of discretion by entering into an agreement that constitutes a “derogation of the country’s dignity and an unconscionable sellout of sovereignty.”
But the SC said that it can rule only on the legality of the agreement, and “not its wisdom or folly.”
“Their remedy clearly belongs to the executive or legislative branches of government,” it said.
The High Court reiterated that EDCA implemented the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), which allows the entry of US troops in the country.
“Reading the VFA along with the long standing 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 SC said. – Rappler.com
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