Drilon: No caucus on EDCA

by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2014 07:54 PM | Updated as of May 06 2014 03:54 AM

MANILA - Senate President Franklin Drilon on Monday denied that he has invited senators to a caucus to discuss the Philippines' Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States.

He said that if a senator files a resolution for the review of the EDCA, this would be referred to the proper committee.

"There is no caucus. I expect that resolutions will be filed in the Senate asking for a review of this Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA and this will be referred to the appropriate committee. The appropriate committee will conduct hearings on this and will ask Malacañang to come before the Senate and justify this agreement in terms of our Constitution and our national interest," he said.

"It will be principally the committee that will conduct the hearings. There could be issues or questions which would be sensitive in nature in terms of our national security and the committee is empowered under our rules to call for an executive session but there is no plan to call for a caucus on the EDCA because this will be tackled at the level of the committee," Drilon added.

Malacanang earlier expressed confidence that the 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.