“As an executive agreement, it is now within the power of President Duterte to terminate the agreement.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Progressive groups have turned to President Duterte to revoke the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the US and the Philippines, as they lambasted the Supreme Court’s final ruling on its constitutionality issued today, July 26.
The Supreme Court (SC) voted 9-4 to junk the motion for reconsideration filed by groups led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), which petitioned for Edca to be declared unconstitutional. The SC denied the petition on January 12.
“We call on President Duterte to assert national interest and terminate the Edca, because it is a lopsided agreement,” said Renato Reyes Jr., Bayan secretary general. “As an executive agreement, according to the SC, it is now within the power of President Duterte to terminate the agreement,” he said.
Reyes said the SC decision was even timed for the arrival of US State Secretary John Kerry in Manila tomorrow. “The timing of the SC decision reminds us of the time when Edca was signed in 2014, in time for (US President Barack) Obama’s first visit to the Philippines,” he said.
Progressives have criticized former President Benigno Aquino III for opening up the country to the return of the US military bases and increased dependence on the US in the face of China’s growing aggression in the West Philippine Sea.
The 1987 Constitution bans any treaty that allows the presence of foreign military bases and troops, unless concurred in by the Senate. In its Jan. 12 ruling, the SC declared Edca as an executive agreement, and not a treaty, thus, well within the President’s authority.
“Duterte does not need Edca to assert our national interest in the West Philippine Sea. There is already a ruling by the PCA (Permanent Court of Arbitration). He need not seek the involvement of the US and further escalate tensions in the region,” Reyes said.
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago also criticized the SC decision, as she cited how defense agreements such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) had not helped improve the country’s defense capability.
“The Edca ruling not only undermines our sovereignty – it also ensures that the Philippines will forever be beholden to the claws of the US, and in turn, to Washington’s interests,” Elago said.
“Upholding the constitutionality of EDCA is tantamount to upholding the status of the Philippines as an American neocolony. With the lopsided deal now free of legal impediments, there is no stopping Washington from intensifying its campaign to regain its bases in the Philippines,” she said.
Reyes said progressive groups will stage a protest against Kerry’s visit tomorrow.