“This unconstitutional act embodies President Aquino’s endorsement of the militaristic path of the Abe administration, proof that he is all too willing to act as an enabler of a resurgent Japanese militarism.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA — ACT Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio and three teacher-leaders had asked the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the implementation of two agreements signed this year by the Philippine and Japanese governments, which, they said, violate the Philippine Constitution’s ban on the presence of foreign troops.
In a petition for temporary restraining order (TRO) on July 15, the teachers asked the high court to declare the recently-inked Memorandum on Defense Cooperation and Exchanges, and the Japan-Philippines Joint Declaration, as invalid and unconstitutional.
President Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed the “Japan-Philippines Joint Declaration: a strengthened strategic partnership for advancing the shared principles and goals of peace, security, and growth in the region and beyond” on June 4, at the end of Aquino’s Japan visit this year.
The Memorandum on Defense Cooperation and Exchanges was signed on Jan. 29 this year by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani. The petitioners said the content of the agreement was only made public after the joint naval exercises between the Philippine and the Japanese Maritime Self-defense Force (JMSDF) in June.
The petition also asked the high court to stop future joint military exercises with Japan, citing that two such exercises had been “illegally” held in the country, in May and June this year.
The petition said the two agreements caters to the “resurgent militarism” of Japan, a path which the country denounced, after causing suffering and loss of lives in other countries and its own people in World War II.
Under the memorandum, the two countries will conduct bilateral trainings and activities, coordination for maritime security and safety, capacity-building, and disaster relief. The joint declaration provides for the two countries to “expand their security cooperation.”
The other petitioners were: Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) national chairperson Benjamin Valbuena, ACT for Sovereignty spokesperson and University of the Philippines professor Carl Marc Ramota, and ACT private schools vice chairperson and Ateneo de Manila University Prof. Mark Benedict Lim. They were assisted by lawyer Maneeka Asistol Sarza.
Named respondents were President Aquino, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of staff Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, and Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Jesus Millan.
‘No foreign troops’
The petitioners said the memorandum and joint declaration violates Section 25, Article 18 of the 1987 Constitution, which bans the entry of foreign military forces, unless allowed by a treaty duly ratified by the senate, or by a national referendum, if congress requires.
“This unconstitutional act embodies President Aquino’s endorsement of the militaristic path of the Abe administration, proof that he is all too willing to act as an enabler of a resurgent Japanese militarism,” said the petition.
“The joint military exercises on our soil, waters, and airspace insult our history and flout our ideals for sovereignty and peace,” said the petition.
The petitioners said that 70 years after World War II, Japan has yet to give full restitution and compensation to the Filipino people for its war crimes, which include giving “official recognition and apology to the remaining ‘comfort women.’”
The petitioners said that although the country needs to forge alliances to help defend its territory, but turning the country into a base for Japanese troops “would be a humiliating act of subservience.”
“For a country formerly occupied by Japan to host Japanese military forces on its territory would be unprecedented in post-World War II history, and President Aquino will earn the ignominy of making it happen,”said the petition.
“President Aquino is knowingly and deliberately violating the Constitution, surrendering our nation’s sovereignty, in pursuing expanded Japanese military presence within our territory,” the petition said.