MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has decided not to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the new agreement that would boost US military presence in the country.
The high court instead asked the Office of the President, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of National Defense to answer within 10 days from notice the petition filed.
Former Senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tanada joined forces to question the country’s Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States and its latest spawn, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
The two legal luminaries are 2 of the “Magnificent 12” senators who voted to kick out the US military bases in 1991. They were led by former Senate President Jovito Salonga. They rejected a proposed treaty that would have extended the presence of the US military bases in the country for at least another 10 years.
Signed in April prior to the arrival of US President Barack Obama, the EDCA allows US troops access to a limited number of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) camps.
They were 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 MDT 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 Thus, it has no legal leg to stand on since the MDT was already superseded by the 1987 Constitution, they said.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.”