MANILA - Former Senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tanada have joined forces anew to question the country’s Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States and its spawn, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
The two legal luminaries are two of the “Magnificent 12” who voted to kick out the US military bases in 1991. The 12, which also includes former Senate President Jovito Salonga, rejected a proposed treaty that would have extended the presence of the US military bases in the country for at least another 10 years.
This time, the two will question before the Supreme Court the EDCA signed last month prior to the arrival of US President Barack Obama. The deal allows US troops access to a limited number of Armed Forces of the Philippines camps.
They will be joined by former UP President, Dr. Francisco "Dodong" Nemenzo Jr., Dean Pacifico A. Agabin, Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Atty. Steve Salonga who is a son of former Senate President Jovito R. Salonga, lawyers Harry Roque, Evalyn Ursua and Edre Olalia, Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo and Dr. Roland Simbulan, and former Representative Teddy Casiño of Bayan.
The petitioners said the EDCA is a mere implementation of the 1951 treaty between the US and the Philippines. Thus, it has no legal leg to stand on since the MDT was already superseded by the 1987 Constitution, they said.
This means that the MDT will now be challenged before the high court.
The petitioners also said the EDCA "grants the Americans carta blanche power to establish and operate de facto military bases anywhere on Philippine soil, minus the cost of paying for one."
It also violates the ban on nuclear weapons mentioned specifically in the Constitution, they said.
The petitioners said the EDCA also deprives both the Senate and the SC of their constitutional rights.
The EDCA, which they say is a treaty, did not go through the Senate's ratification process.
It also failed to include the SC's power to review its constitutionality, they said.
"Not only is the EDCA a violation of the Philippine Constitution…it also does not provide any substantial, long-term real benefit, much less distinct advantage or improvement in our position vis-à-vis the United States," the petitioners said.