The Philippine's Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg (2nd R) sign the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters in Quezon city, metro Manila April 28, 2014. Photo by Al Falcon, Reuters.
MANILA -- Malacanang is confident that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States will pass legal muster.
“In the entire process of discussions with the United States, national interest was foremost in the minds of the members of the Philippine panel,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.
Several groups are planning to bring to the Supreme Court the agreement, which gives American soldiers access to a limited number of military bases. It was signed ahead of US President Barack Obama’s state visit last Monday.
Even former Senator Joker Arroyo has slammed the agreement, saying the administration has skirted the constitutional prohibition of military bases in the country.
For Arroyo, opening up the military bases to the US soldiers is much worse.
Coloma said Malacanang respects the opinions of Arroyo and others against the EDCA.
But he insisted that there is a “clear provision that the US would not establish a permanent military presence or base in the Philippines.”
He also noted that the “US access to and use of designated areas in Armed Forces of the Philippines-owned and -controlled facilities will be at the invitation of the Philippine government,” adding that the Philippines’ prior consent is needed in choosing these locations.
He said the Philippines will also retain primary responsibility for security of the agreed locations and that the Armed Forces base commander has access to these areas.
Coloma asked the public to understand the government’s intentions in signing the EDCA.