Edca: A message for P-Noy from Senate

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2015 - 9:00am

Tomorrow is the 15th Grand Wine Experience at the Marriott Hotel of the Philippine Wine Merchants with Ralphs Wines & Spirits founded by the Joseph Brothers. It is without doubt the most anticipated wine event in Southeast Asia. I have been invited to this grand event for three years now and every year the choice of wines gets impeccable and the food is to die for! Kudos to the Joseph Brothers for holding the 15th edition of the Grand Wine Experience and indeed, every year they hold it is truly a great food and wine experience that could only happen at the Marriott Hotel.

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Call it bad timing if you want but then the Philippine Senate finally decided to vote against the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with 15 Affirmative, 1 No, and 3 Abstention. In effect, the Senate is telling the nation or specifically Pres. Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III  that EDCA is a treaty prohibited under the 1987 Constitution and that the Executive must learn to respect the independence of the Senate!

This decision formalizes the position of Senate Resolution No. 1414 on the question of the validity and effectivity of EDCA, which the Aquino regime signed on April 28, 2014 through Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg right before US President Barack Obama came to the Philippines for a visit.

We have always looked at EDCA as an agreement between the US Executive Department and Malacañang that gives a strategic partnership between the US and the Philippines, thus allowing any number of US troops to visit the Philippines on a regular basis and even allows the construction of facilities, stores and other infrastructure to preposition defense and disaster preparedness supplies and equipment. This agreement calls for these structures to be turned over to the Philippines after their use by the US.

But in the end, we’ve always believed that any formal treaty between nations just cannot be approved or become binding to both nations unless the Senate approves such treaty and this includes the US Senate. So in a sense, this is what EDCA is seriously lacking – the approval of the Senate.

All this is happening to the Aquino regime while “P-Noy” is in the midst of preparing for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to be held next week. I really don’t know why the Philippine Senate finally decided to conduct this vote at this time. But I believe that the time was ripe to send a clear message to the Aquino regime that the Executive must learn to reckon with the Senate, whom P-Noy disregarded especially during the CJ Corona trials.

It is possible that Senate insiders got hold of inside information from the Supreme Court which has yet to come up with a decision whether to declare EDCA constitutional or not. I suspect that they wanted to literally “jump-the-gun” on the SC so that if and when the SC decides that EDCA was not constitutional… at least the Philippine Senate already did their job.

It is also timely that the Senate made this vote because Chinese President Xi Jinping is coming to Manila for the APEC meeting. Already Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has met his Chinese counterpart Secretary Wang Yi, although both of them did not want to openly talk about the current problems we are having in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea. It makes you think that if both China and the Philippines are going to be polite to one another during the APEC Summit and not mention our troubles with the Chinese building islands in the Spratlys, then what good would this APEC summit for the Philippines who is hosting this summit?

At this point, we cannot predict what would happen during the APEC Summit. We can only inform the Chinese leader that President Aquino is on his last months in office and therefore they can look forward to a new Filipino President who might be more open to talk to the Chinese without necessarily having the US behind us during those talks. This is something we can all be hopeful about. But in the meantime, the Philippine Senate has made its decision regarding EDCA… so it is up to Malacanang to assure the Senate that this treaty will be done with the concurrence of the Senate.

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It seems that whatever credibility Daang Matuwid has left has been smashed by that report that we read from the Commission on Audit (COA) wherein it has ordered the return of more than P626 million in unauthorized bonuses, allowances and incentive paid by some 28 government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC). Of this group, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) came out with the highest P213.84 million amount of these unlawful releases. Duty Free Philippines came out second highest violator with P154.926 million in unauthorized releases. Let us hope that these GOCC’s would return these monies and let’s see how fast they can return it.

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Email: vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com

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