EDCA dissenters: Philippines may lose sovereignty
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Upholding the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US means the Philippines gets to strengthen its defenses but loses its sovereignty, according to the four dissenting justices of the Supreme Court.

Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Marvic Leonen disagreed with the majority ruling of 10 magistrates on EDCA, arguing that it is a treaty by nature, expands the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Mutual Defense Treaty, and needs Senate concurrence.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago also criticized the decision, saying the high court failed to rise above its problematic ruling on the VFA.

“The Supreme Court contradicts the power of the Senate. The Constitution clearly states that without Senate concurrence, no treaty can become law. Now, the court is saying that the executive may call agreements by another name in order to bypass the Senate,” the lawmaker said.

Leonen opened his dissent with the line “Para kayong mga birhen na naniniwala sa pag-ibig ng isang puta” (You are all like virgins who believe in the love of a whore) quoted from the movie Heneral Luna. The scene showed General Antonio Luna rebuking those who believed that the US would respect Philippine independence.

“History will now record that in 2016, it is this Supreme Court that said yes to the EDCA. This decision now darkens the colors of what is left of our sovereignty as defined in our Constitution. The majority’s take is the aftermath of squandered opportunity,” the youngest magistrate lamented.

Leonen concluded his 58-page dissent saying the majority succeeded in emasculating the Constitution, effectively erasing the blood, sweat and tears shed by Filipino martyrs.

“I register more than my disagreement. I mourn that this court has allowed this government to acquiesce into collective subservience to the Executive power, contrary to the spirit of our basic law,” he lamented.

De Castro opined that EDCA “is entirely a new treaty” that needs Senate concurrence as required under Section 25, Article XVIII of the Constitution.

She believes the agreement that allows the construction of permanent buildings for US troops, bunkering of vessels, maintenance of vehicles and the storage and prepositioning of defense materiel proves the permanent nature of stay of the American forces in the country.

“While it is true that the Philippines cannot stand alone and will need friends within and beyond this region of the world, still we cannot offend our Constitution and bargain away our sovereignty,” De Castro reasoned in her 28-page dissent.

Brion said in his 65-page separate dissenting opinion that EDCA widened the scope of VFA and the Treaty of 1951. He suggested to have it suspended and to give the executive branch 90 days to get a concurrence. If the President fails to do so, then the majority ruling would be affirmed.

“To accord a lesser respect for our own Constitution is to invite America’s disrespect for the Philippines as a co-equal, sovereign and independent nation,” Brion stressed.

Although critical of the decision, Santiago said the Senate has to abide by the decision as she urged her colleagues to reiterate their position that the government must renegotiate or abrogate EDCA. – With Christina Mendez

ACIRC ARTURO BRION ASSOCIATE JUSTICES TERESITA LEONARDO BRION DE CASTRO GENERAL ANTONIO LUNA HENERAL LUNA IF THE PRESIDENT LEONEN MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO SUPREME COURT
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