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Friday, May 24, 2019

SC rules with finality: Edca is constitutional

THE Supreme Court (SC) has junked a petition filed by groups seeking to reverse the high court's earlier ruling that declared the military deal signed by Philippines and the United States constitutional.

The SC in its session on Tuesday affirmed its ruling dated January 12, 2016 and dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners Kilusang Mayo Uno, former senator Rene Saguisag, and Bagong Alyansa Makabayan (Bayan) deputy secretary general Renato Reyes.

"The Court, voting 9-4, denied the petitioner's motion for reconsideration filed against its decision of 12 January 2016 sustaining the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Corporation Agreement (Edca) between US and the Philippines," the decision states.

The minority who decided to grant the petition of the progressive groups were Associate Justices Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Arturo Brion, Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, and Marvic Leonen.

Associate Justice Francis Jardaleza and Benjamin Caguioa took no part in the voting because of their participation as Solicitor General and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel respectively.

The SC magistrates argued that the petitioners were not able to present new arguments to claim that the Court erred when it decided to declare that Edca was not a treaty.

"Petitioners do not present new arguments to buttress their claims of error in the part of this Court. They have rehashed their prior arguments and made them responsive to the structure...yet the points being made are the same," the decision reads.

Malacañang immediately welcomed the Supreme Court decision.

“The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of our nation’s disputes. The court of last resort has spoken: The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) is constitutional,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.

The ruling was issued a day ahead of the scheduled meeting of President Rodrigo Duterte and US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday to tackle the enhanced cooperation between the two countries.

Andanar said the SC decision would optimize the security opportunities the Edca had provided to the country.

“The Supreme Court’s decision upholding Edca’s legality hopes to increase the interoperability of our armed forces and contribute to its modernizaton,” Andanar said.

Voting 10-4-1, the SC on January 12 declared constitutional the military deal signed by the US and Philippines in April 2014 during US President Barack Obama's visit to the country.

The ruling upheld Malacañang's claim that the Edca is an executive agreement and not a treaty that requires Senate's concurrence.

The high court also said that the President has the right to enter into an executive agreement on foreign military bases, troops, or facilities under article 18, Section 25 of the 1987 constitution.

The said provision gives American troops increased rotational presence in Philippine military bases. It also allows US to build facilities to store fuel and equipment in the Philippines.

On May 2015, Saguisag, former senator Wigberto Tañada, and militant lawmakers led by Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, filed a petition challenging the Edca.

The petitioners argued that Edca violates provisions on national sovereignty, territorial integrity and interests, freedom from nuclear weapons and autonomy of local government units in the charter. (Sunnex)
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