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SC to rule on EDCA tomorrow

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) is set to rule tomorrow on the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States.

An insider said the petitions filed in May last year by former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada and militant lawmakers led by Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate will be included in the agenda of the justices in their first regular session this year following a month-long holiday break.

The source said members of the high court are expected to arrive at a split decision, revealing that three magistrates have submitted dissenting opinions to the draft decision upholding the constitutionality of EDCA.

The SC was set to decide on the case on Nov. 10 and 16 last year before the arrival of US President Barrack Obama for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but the high court failed to rule on the case because some justices were yet undecided.

The voting was then reset to Dec. 16, but was again deferred after some justices decided to come up with their respective opinions that required more time for deliberations.

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

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 - not merely an executive agreement as the Palace has claimed – which needs concurrence of the Senate before it could be implemented.

Because of this, the groups said the agreement violates Article XVIII, Section 25 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.”

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

Under the EDCA, the US will be allowed to build structures, store as well as preposition weapons, defense supplies, 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 President Obama arrived in the country for his two-day state visit in 2014.   

 

ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION BAYAN MUNA REPS ENHANCED DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENT NBSP NERI COLMENARES AND CARLOS ZARATE PHILIPPINES AND THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT BARRACK OBAMA PRESIDENT OBAMA RENE SAGUISAG AND WIGBERTO TA SOLICITOR GENERAL FLORIN HILBAY SUPREME COURT
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