SC gets 3rd petition vs EDCA

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 27 2014 05:07 PM | Updated as of Jun 28 2014 01:07 AM

MANILA - Government workers, through the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), and militant labor organization Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), filed a petition with the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday that seeks to declare as unconstitutional the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the US.

Petitioners claimed that the agreement violates the constitutional provisions on the "preferential use of Filipino labor and domestic materials; tax exemption; national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national interest; freedom from nuclear weapons; role of the judiciary in settling disputes; autonomy of local government units; and treaties with toher countries, specifically, military treaties."

The petition described the violations as "wholesale violations" of the Constitution.

Petitioners urged the high court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) in order to stay the implementation of the agreement's provisions, and, on the merit, nullify EDCA.

"EDCA means the massive deployment of US military troops and weaponry into the country -- unprecedented since World War II. All freedom-loving and nation-loving Filipinos should stand up against it."

"We should not allow the US or any foreign power to reoccupy the Philippines," COURAGE president Ferdinand Gaite said in a statement.

Named as respondents in the petition are Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, and Armed Forces chief Emmanuel Bautista.

The EDCA, inked last April 8 in time for the visit of US President Barack Obama, is described in the Philippine Government's Official Gazette as "an agreement between the Philippines and the United States which is envisioned to advance the implementation of the Philippine-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT)."

"The EDCA is designed to promote the following between the Philippines and its defense treaty ally the United States: interoperability capacity building towards AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) modernization; strengthening AFP for external defense; maritime security; maritime domain awareness; and humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR)," the description of the agreement in the gazette read.

Two earlier petitions were filed with the SC against the EDCA. These petitions remain pending.