The Philippine Supreme Court gave its final decision to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States. The nod was been out amid the lack of new evidences presented by the petitioners.
A day before the US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the country for a two-day visit, the Supreme Court justices convened and decided by a vote 9-4 to deny the appeals of former senators Wigberto Tanada and Rene Saguisag and militant congressmen spearheaded by Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate.
According to the high court, citing a lack of new arguments, instead affirmed its January decision finding the EDCA not constitutionally infirm as alleged by the petitioners.
The Malacañang lauded the SC ruling and expressed optimism it would further improve Philippine-US military relations.
In a text message of Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar to reporters, he said “we likewise remain confident that through this military cooperation we would improve our joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts”
Petitioners of the case cited their main argument in their motions for reconsideration lst February that the EDCA violated Article 18, Section 25 of the Constitution, which requires concurrence of Senate on treaties.
But the SC said EDCA is a valid executive agreement between then President Benigno Aquino III and US official and not a treaty.
Furthermore, the Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in her penned resolution of the case said “petitioners do not present new arguments to buttress their claims of error on the part of this Court. They have rehashed their prior arguments and made them responsive to the structure of the decision, yet the points being made are the same,”
Under the agreement, the US is 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.
The agreement was signed hours before US President Barrack Obama arrived in the Philippines for his two-day State visit last April 28 and 29, 2014.
The Duterte Administration’s Chief Spokesman said the ruling definitely states that EDCA is indisputably constitutional as he refers the SC as last resort of all cases.
“The Supreme Court’s decision upholding EDCA’s legality hopes to increase the interoperability of our armed forces and contribute to its modernization,” Andanar said in a statement.