Aquino: Petitioners regret filing EDCA case
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III defended the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) anew on the same day the Supreme Court (SC) started oral arguments to decide on its constitutionality.
On Tuesday evening, November 18, Aquino said some petitioners even regret filing the case against the government before the SC. He refused to mention names, supposedly to protect them from media attention.
“We are on the same side although seemingly our positions are different. We talked. It feels good that we have the same perspective,” he said. “They even said, ‘I wish we had spoken before starting this.’ But now we have to continue this [case].”
Aquino also reiterated the country needs EDCA, and expressed confidence in its constitutionality.
“We are confident that what we did is in line with our Constitution and that it serves a need. Our country really needs this kind of agreement that is just a supplement to other previous agreements like the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement,” he said.
“Basically we’re just refining that agreement. So if those two were okay and this just clarifies the details in those, why does this have to be contrary [to law]?”
Petitions were filed before the Supreme Court to nullify EDCA and declare it unconstitutional because it is "de facto" basing. Petitioners said the agreement, which gives US troops expanded access to military facilities in the Philippines, should have been ratified by the Senate first.
EDCA was signed in April 2014 by Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg to expand US military presence in the Philippines by allowing two new activities: the construction of facilities and the prepositioning of defense assets.
During Tuesday's oral arguments at the High Court, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno dismissed as "speculative" declarations made by petitioners that EDCA violates territorial integrity and sovereignty and that it is meant only to advance US interests. – Rappler.com