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Ex-US senator backs bid to strike down EDCA

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – A former American senator is supporting petitions in the Supreme Court (SC) against the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States, citing its unconstitutionality.

In a petition for intervention filed through lawyer Harry Roque Jr. yesterday, former Alaska senator Mike Gravel said EDCA is a treaty that needs concurrence of the Philippine Senate.

Former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada, Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement (Courage), filed the petitions with the SC against EDCA.

Gravel, who was senator from 1969 to 1981, also argued that the agreement violated the Treaty Clause of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, and is “neither in the best interest of the Philippine people nor in the best interest of the American people.”

He said the EDCA was not really designed to protect Philippine interests but rather to afford the US a geographic advantage to confront China over its ascendant superpower status, which he said the US finds offensive to its global hegemonic status.

Gravel belied the US’s claim that it is patrolling the South China Sea in the exercise of freedom of navigation when the US itself has yet to ratify the Law of the Sea convention.

The former senator said the Philippines should divorce itself from any military entanglements with the US, Japan, the European Union or China.

He said if there’s no threat of invasion from China or any other nation, the Philippines should not be “fascinated with taking on the burden of militarism” so it can put funds to better use instead of spending on munitions.

Under EDCA, the US will be allowed to build structures, as well as store or preposition weapons, defense supplies and materiel in the Philippines. It will also be allowed to station troops, civilian personnel and defense contractors, as well as transit and station vehicles, vessels, and aircraft for a period of 10 years.

It was signed by officials of both countries hours before President Barack Obama arrived in the country for his state visit in April last year.

The SC is set to vote on the case next Monday, Nov. 16.

Let SC decide

Malacañang, for its part, said it is “abiding by the legal process” and is just “awaiting the SC decision.”

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. also said the “Senate is well within its rights to deliberate on and enact resolutions,” when sought for comment on Senate Resolution No. 1414 seeking the chamber’s ratification of EDCA.

The Senate believes EDCA is a treaty and not an executive agreement, thus must be subject to Senate concurrence. – With Aurea Calica, Alexis Romero

ACIRC ALEXIS ROMERO ATILDE BAYAN MUNA REPS EDCA ENHANCED DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENT EUROPEAN UNION HARRY ROQUE JR. KILUSANG MAYO UNO LAW OF THE SEA MIKE GRAVEL
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