Drilon: Let SC decide on EDCA legal issues

by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 30 2014 05:49 PM | Updated as of May 01 2014 01:49 AM

MANILA - Senate President Franklin M. Drilon advised critics of the recently-signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States to bring their concerns to the Supreme Court.

"It would be wise to bring up to the Supreme Court the debate on the EDCA, for it is only the high court that can resolve with finality if the EDCA is a treaty that requires the concurrence of the Senate, or an executive agreement which the executive has the power under the Constitution to execute and implement," said Drilon.

The Senate leader's recommendations came after several quarters, including lawmakers, expressed apprehension over the lack of congressional involvement in the agreement, which was signed last April 28 during the two-day Philippine visit of US President Barack Obama.

Drilon, a former justice secretary, acknowledged the concerns about the EDCA's conformity to the 1987 Constitution as "legitimate and valid," and suggested that the EDCA be lodged at the Supreme Court, who will have the power to determine if the agreement must be first ratified as a treaty in Senate before it can be implemented.

"I urge everyone who opposes EDCA to go the Supreme Court, which is the only body that could finally decide whether this is a treaty which would require ratification by the Senate, or an executive agreement which will be implemented by a mere signature of the executive branch," he said, adding that the SC is the "ultimate arbiter" on this issue.

He said it depends on the Executive branch if it thinks Senate concurrence is needed before the agreement is implemented.

He said the Senate can only act on it officially if the Executive branch decides to submit the document to the upper chamber.

"If the document is not sent to us, then we have nothing to ratify officially. So I would go back to my suggestion: bring it to the Supreme Court, who is the ultimate arbiter whether this is a treaty or an executive agreement," said Drilon.