Eight reasons why we should abrogate the EDCA

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

At first blush, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which was signed in April this year, is a very timely solution to China's bullying tactics, responsive to our security needs, and is only a fitting covenant between ourselves and our ally, the ever-reliable USA. If made to choose between China and the US, most of our people would readily choose Uncle Sam. More so, if it is a choice between Russia and America. We have had a long history of alliance and friendship with the US, which we could not just drop whatever happens, even viz-a-viz the complexities of contemporary geopolitics. But, of course, we should always defend our own interests.

For, if we scrutinize the finer details of EDCA, we, as a sovereign people, if we believe that we really are, should uphold, first and foremost, our own sovereignty and integrity as an independent state. There are, at least eight reasons why we should terminate this agreement. First, it violates our Constitution, particularly Article 18, Sec 25 that prohibits entry of foreign troops, except when allowed by a treaty, concurred in by the Senate. Second, the EDCA is not a treaty, and it was not ratified by 2/3 of the members of the Senate. In content and in process, the Supreme Court will most probably declare the EDCA as unconstitutional.

Third, EDCA exposes us to too many hazards and may push our nation to war or conflict with China and Russia. Once the US starts repositioning its war equipment, and depositing war materials inside the '' agreed locations'', like Fort Bonifacio, Camp Aguinaldo, Camp Crame, and Fort Magsaysay, among others, these would invite aggressive and preemptive attacks. The bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 8, 1941, illustrates the historical plausibility of this fear. Fourth, the entry of foreign troops would give opportunities to repeat the rape of Filipino women and the murder of LGBT's by soldiers who would not submit to our criminal jurisdiction.

Fifth, The EDCA is very vague and very broad in scope and contents. It virtually allows the permanent presence of US troops, the possible insidious revival of US bases, under a broader, more flexible and more liberal arrangements that only favor the US. Sixth, it is a virtual accomodation in perpetuity. Although its initial duration is ten years, it is deemed automatically renewed unless terminated by one of the parties. Seventh, under the EDCA, any dispute in its implementation cannot be subject of any litigation in our local or even international court, nor be subject to any third party arbitration. The Philippines will have nowhere to go.

Lastly, the EDCA is one-sided. It is unfair to us. The US troops can use all our facilities gratuitously, water, electricity and radio frequency for free. They are tax-exempt. Even while the Philippine authorities have access to the "agreed locations', this access is ''subject to safety and security requirements.''  And the US officials still have '' operational control'' over the areas. Senator Miriam D Santiago said that EDCA is a slap in the face of the Philippine Senate, and will most probably be questioned before the High Court. We do not wish that another major legal debacle should befall this government, after the monumental Supreme Court rebuff on PDAP.

Before another major case is lost, we believe that the better option for Malacañang is to terminate the EDCA and start negotiating for a fairer and more viable modus vivinde with our strongest ally, the USA. And the people should be fully and timely informed on such a historic and far-reaching agreement.


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