MANILA - Progressive bloc lawmakers slammed the Supreme Court (SC) ruling upholding the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the United States and the Philippines.
"The decision is truly unfortunate; this is a sad day in our campaign for the defense of our national sovereignty and territorial integrity," said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate.
"It is ironic that, just recently, the Philippines won its case against China's aggression in the West Philippine Sea. Yet, through this lopsided agreement entered by former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, the country will once again be tied ad infinitum to the expansionist and hegemonist US policy, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region," Zarate added.
Voting 9-4, the high court on Tuesday stood pat on its earlier decision affirming the constitutionality of the EDCA, denying the motions for reconsideration filed by petitioners led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and former Senator Rene Saguisag.
The high court pointed out that petitioners "do not present new arguments to buttress their claims of error on the part of [the SC]" and "rehashed their prior arguments."
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said upholding the constitutionality of EDCA "is tantamount to upholding the status of the Philippines as an American neocolony."
Elago lamented that the previous administration under Aquino exploited the issue of the West Philippine Sea supposedly to justify the "equally abhorrent" EDCA.
"Contrary to the claim of the past Aquino administration that EDCA will pave the way for the upgrading of our national defense capabilities, EDCA will only ensure that our nation will continue the path towards US subservience," she said.
"The EDCA ruling not only undermines our sovereignty - it also ensures that the Philippines will forever be beholden to the claws of the US, and in turn, to Washington's interests. We have entered into several similar military pacts in the past, but did our country benefit from it? Clearly, no. Instead, agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty only served to keep us dependent on US support."
Zarate said the SC decision will not deter them from fighting for national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"This should not deter us in our fight against foreign intervention, and, in our quest of having a truly independent foreign policy, relations and solidarity with other countries and peoples of the world," he said.
Malacañang, for its part, said the SC's decision hopes to increase the interoperability of the Armed Forces and contribute to its modernization.
"The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of our nation's disputes. The court of last resort has spoken: The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is constitutional," said Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
"We likewise remain confident that through this military cooperation we would improve our joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts."