SC to vote on enhanced Philippines-US defense pact today
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - November 15, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Is it a treaty or just an executive agreement?

After the Senate invoked last week its position that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States is a treaty that needs concurrence of the Senate, it is the turn of the Supreme Court (SC) to decide on the constitutionality of EDCA based on the same legal issue today.

The SC justices were supposed to vote on the case last Tuesday but some justices were not ready with their opinions. Two of them were also on sick leave.

The case was heard by the high court in oral arguments in November last year and had been up for resolution since December last year.

The two main petitions against EDCA were filed in May last year by a group led by former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada and nationalist lawmakers led by Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate.

Similar petitions were also filed by Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement (Courage).

Petitioners alleged that EDCA violates provisions on national sovereignty, territorial integrity and interests, freedom from nuclear weapons and autonomy of local government units in the charter.

They also argued that EDCA is a treaty and not merely an executive agreement as the Aquino administration has claimed.

Because of this, the groups said the EDCA violates Section 25, Article XVIII of the Constitution, which requires that any foreign military bases, troops or facilities “shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate.”

But the government, through Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, has argued that EDCA is a valid executive agreement that could stand even without the concurrence of the Senate.

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

It was signed by officials of both countries hours before US President Barack Obama arrived in the Philippines for his state visit on April 28 to 29, 2014.

AFTER THE SENATE BAYAN MUNA REPS EDCA ENHANCED DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENT KILUSANG MAYO UNO NERI COLMENARES AND CARLOS ZARATE PHILIPPINES AND THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA RECOGNITION AND ADVANCEMENT RENE SAGUISAG AND WIGBERTO TA SOLICITOR GENERAL FLORIN HILBAY
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