BULLYING, both at the individual and international levels, was in the news last week.
The Nation's Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) with the United States has yet to be implemented. It was signed, perhaps hurriedly, by President Aquino in April 2014 just a day or two before United States President Barack Obama travelled to Manila.
There were those who argued that PNoy's unilateral signing of Edca was in violation of Article VII Section 21 of the Constitution which says: "No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all members of the Senate."
By explicitly including "international agreements," the Constitution is saying that Edca requires Senate approval. This was the case with the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which did obtain Senate approval in 1999.
Edca implementation would give US troops wide access to Philippine military basis and approval to build facilities to store fuel and equipment for maritime security.
The constitutionality of Edca has already been challenged and is now being considered by the Supreme Court. This challenge has delayed Edca implementation.
Some senators (13 out of 24) have signed a draft resolution insisting that Senate scrutinizes Edca before it takes effect.
"In this resolution, we are saying that we shall not allow the power of the Senate to be eroded." ssaid Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.
It is regrettable that PNoy did not submit Edca for Senate approval in April 2014 when, constitutionally, it appears he should have done. After all, President Estrada did so with the VFA in 1998 despite US Defense Secretary William Cohen cajoling him to sign immediately.
I believe that Senate would have probably given the go-ahead to Edca in late 2014.
Meanwhile, China is creating several artificial islands in the Spratlys and is thereby applying pressure on Southeast Asian countries, especially the Philippines.
Last week, the House of Representatives endorsed to the Senate House Bill No. 5760 which deals with hazing. HB 5760 proposes to repeat Republic Act No 8049 which regulates physical hazing. This is because it is claimed that RA 8049 only deals with the physical aspects whereas HB 5760 addresses psychological aspects as well.
I am cynical.
The problem with RA 8049 is not the Act itself which I believe is well-crafted. The problem lies with the justice system which has shown itself not to be able to deal with prima facie breaches of RA 8049. I don't believe anyone has been convicted for an RA 8049 violations.
I assume that corruption is involved. Marvin Reglos was murdered as a result of hazing rites. Justice Secretary, Leila de Lima initially talked about bringing the perpetrators to justice but the momentum of the prosecutorial processes diminished and no-one has been found guilty.
The more recent case involving the son of Mr. Servando is remarkable in that Mr. Servando has shown generosity to many of those who are alleged to have been involved in his son's murder. There is, however, a hard core which, hopefully, due in part to Mr Servando's tenacity, will eventually face trial.
Bullying, whether by one nation over another, such as China's pressure on the Philippines, or by one individual over another such as seen in fraternity hazing, is repugnant. It will always be with us, but by societal or international pressure, can be greatly reduced.