Lawyers and private individuals show the petition they filed at the Supreme Court questioning the validity of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the Unites States. Photo by Lito Diaz for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA - Former Senators Rene A. V. Saguisag and Wigberto E. Tañada urged the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday to declare as null and void the recently signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States.
Saguisag and Tañada, who were among the 12 senators who voted to kick the US military bases out of the Philippines in 1991, filed a 65-page petition for certiorari that labeled the EDCA as "a clear departure from and [a] reversal" of the stand taken by the Senate then.
They assailed government for lacking the resolve to protect Philippine sovereignty and national interest, and accused Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin of grave abuse of discretion for entering into the agreement.
Petitioners, joined by former University of the Philippines President, Dr. Francisco “Dodong” Nemenzo Jr.; Dean Pacifico A. Agabin, Sr.; Mary John Mananzan; Atty. Steve Salonga, son of former Senate President Jovito R. Salonga; lawyers Harry Roque, Evalyn Ursua and Edre Olalia; Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo; Dr. Roland Simbulan; and former Representative Teddy Casiño of Bayan, said the EDCA is unconstitutional "for blatantly violating various provisions of the Philippine Constitution and for being contrary to national interest."
"This agreement will allow the US government to use Philippine military bases, essentially allowing them to build structures, store as well as preposition weapons, defense supplies and material, station troops, civilian personnel and defense contractors, transit and station vehicles, vessels, and aircraft.
"This will effectively allow them to establish and operate defacto military bases anywhere on Philippine soil, minus the cost of paying for one," the petition read.
Petitioners said the EDCA is actually a treaty, which needs the concurrence of the Senate.
However, they stressed that government cannot further a treaty that is both unconstitutional and contrary to the intents and purposes of the United Nations Charter.
They said the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) was already superseded by the 1987 Constitution, and may not serve as a basis for any subsequent agreements.
Petitioners further said that the EDCA is no guarantee that the "United States will actually come to the aid of the Philippines in case of an invasion by China."
They pointed out that the MDT may not be invoked in the Philippines' territorial disputes with China since the issue with the West Philippine Sea is neither a metropolitan territory nor islands in the Pacific, as provided in the MDT.
Petitioners said the EDCA also violates the Philippines' ban on nuclear weapons and deprives the Supreme Court of its constitutional prerogatives to review its constitutionality.
They also highlighted that assertion that the EDCA makes the Philippines a target of enemies of the US.
Petitioners urged the high court to immediately issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) of writ of preliminary injunction to stay the implementation of the agreement.