Why are some senators so concerned about the implementation of Edca, or the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement?
If my memory serves me right, China, or the Chinese, only started squatting on our islands and encroaching on our exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea that eventually deprived our fishermen of our rich marine resources after the US Naval Base in Subic, the Clark Air Base in Pampanga and Camp John Hay in Baguio folded up.
The Senate, then led by senators dubbed the “Magnificent 12,” evicted the Americans when it refused to extend the RP-US Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Peace for another 10 years with a vote of 12-11. The treaty, which was signed in 1947, expired on Dec. 21, 1992.
The 12 senators who voted “no” were then Senate President Jovito Salonga, Juan Ponce Enrile, Agapito Aquino, Joseph Estrada, Teofisto Guingona Jr., Sotero Laurel, Orlando Mercado, Ernesto Maceda, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Victor Ziga, Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada, who authored Resolution 1259 of Non-Concurrence to the proposed treaty.
“The treaty is defeated,” Salonga announced at the time. (Rappler.com)
The proposal to extend the US military presence in the Philippines was polarizing.
Then President Corazon Aquino had pushed for the approval of the extension, even leading a march to the Senate with around 100,000 of her supporters to lobby for the approval of the treaty. (Rappler.com)
But her warning that our country would suffer dire economic consequences if the US pulled out of the country fell on deaf ears. It just so happened that some of the senators were known to be anti-American even though most were her allies.
Did any of these senators — those who were still alive — protest against Chinese incursion on our sovereignty when it reclaimed land in the West Philippine Sea and, worse, built a military base?
Never heard them.
Instead, then senators Saguisag and Tañada questioned the legality of the Edca that the late President Benigno Aquino III signed in 2014 with the US. But the Supreme Court (SC), on Jan. 12, 2016, upheld the constitutionality of the Edca.
In a 10 to 4 vote, the SC ruled that “the President must be accorded wider discretion in making decisions regarding external affairs, limited only by the letter of the law.”
The SC’s decision paved the way for the return of US bases in four select sites in the country.
But some senators in the current Senate are making a fuss about the implementation of the Edca with unsubstantiated fears of external attack if the US re-established its bases in the country.
How short is their memory? In all the years that the US bases were operating here, was there ever a threat of external attack on our country? None! In contrast, the Chinese were held back from occupying our territories in the West Philippines Sea.
Sadder, the way those senators are questioning the officials of the Department of National Defense as if they were singing the tune of China’s “warning” on our sovereign government that granting the US military access to more military facilities would “seriously harm Philippine national interests and endanger regional peace and stability.”
In a statement released Sunday, March 12, 2023, the Chinese embassy in Manila said that granting the United States greater access to Philippine military bases would drag the Philippines into “geopolitical strife.” (The Diplomat)
Could our senators, who oppose the implementation of the Edca, be held accountable for cowardice for bowing down to the warning of China?
Or are they objecting to Edca because it was signed during PNoy’s time?
March 15, 2023
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