GOVT MUST EXPLAIN DETAILS OF EDCA TO THE PEOPLE - DRILON

Malacañang should explain to the public the details of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed by the Philippines and the United States, which allows increased rotational presence for US troops in the country, Senate President Franklin Drilon said yesterday. “I think the executive is facing the burden of explaining that this is not a treaty. How does this agreement differ from the bases agreement? And the situation from Subic and Clark?” Drilon added, referring to the US bases that were closed down in Subic and Angeles City in 1992. Apart from the Palace, the Department of National Defense and Department of Foreign Affairs should also explain the contents of the EDCA. “There is a need to ask the DND and DFA for an explanation. Let us listen to them justify this EDCA. How does the executive justify that this is not a treaty?” added Drilon, an administration ally. “What is the difference of this agreement and a treaty that this does not need the ratification and concurrence of the Senate, which has the treaty-making authority,” he said. Drilon said the executive department however should be accorded presumption of regularity when they signed the agreement with their counterparts from the US. But that the document itself is complicated and might be misconstrued as blanket approval for bases. READ MORE...

ALSO: Balikatan set to start amid sea row

This year’s Balikatan military exercises start today. It comes a week after the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was signed amid China’s aggressive moves to stake its maritime territorial claims. Balikatan and EDCA arose from the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) requiring the Philippines and the US to maintain and develop capacities to resist armed attacks. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg will attend the opening rites in Camp Aguinaldo at 9 a.m. Other key personalities witnessing the event are Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista and exercise directors Maj. Gen. Emeraldo Magnaye and Lt. Gen. Terry Robling. Around 3,000 Filipino soldiers and 2,500 American troops are expected to join the exercises in various camps nationwide. Balikatan 2014, the 30th iteration of the annual bilateral exercise, will end on May 16. READ MORE...

ALSO: Senators’ caucus on Edca today (Monday)

The Senate cannot compel Malacañang to submit the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) for ratification, but the Palace should have been “prudent” enough to consult the senators before sealing the deal with the United States, Senate President Franklin Drilon said on Sunday. Drilon maintained that the agreement enjoyed a “presumption of constitutionality,” citing also the presumption of “regularity in the performance of functions” by the members of the Philippine panel that negotiated with the United States. “We cannot force them to submit [the agreement for ratification], that’s why it’s better to bring the matter to the Supreme Court, which could order that it be submitted to the Senate,” Drilon said in Filipino in an interview on dzBB radio. Drilon, a member of President Aquino’s Liberal Party, said the Senate should have been “consulted” prior to the signing of the agreement on April 28, three hours before US President Barack Obama arrived in Manila for an overnight visit. “Of course, prudence would have dictated that there should have been consultation, but the executive branch thought that it had already briefed and consulted with the appropriate Senate committees,” Drilon said. The senators are expected to tackle the agreement in a caucus when sessions resume Monday. Drilon said he did receive a “regular update” on the status of negotiations prior to the signing of the new defense agreement.READ MORE...

ALSO: Joker Arroyo: Clever ruse skirts Charter

The Aquino administration has “cleverly” gotten around the constitutional prohibition on the establishment of foreign bases in the country by allowing the use of Philippine military facilities by United States forces under a new agreement on defense cooperation, former Sen. Joker Arroyo said on Saturday. “The Constitution forbids foreign bases. [But] this is even worse. You allow your bases to be used by the American forces,” Arroyo said in a phone interview. The mere act of allowing US forces “unimpeded access” to Philippine military facilities constitutes basing, which is prohibited by the Constitution, he said. “What you can’t do directly, you can’t do indirectly … What is forbidden is forbidden,” Arroyo stressed. He said the constitutional prohibition does not make a distinction between small or big bases. “It simply says bases.” The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca), signed last Monday in time for US President Barack Obama’s visit to the Philippines, grants US forces unimpeded access to and operational control of “agreed locations.” So far, the US has requested access to its former bases in Clark and Subic, as well as Poro Point, La Union, and the Camp Aguinaldo military headquarters, sources in the military said.READ MORE...


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‘Gov’t must explain EDCA

MANILA, MAY 5, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Christina Mendez - Malacañang should explain to the public the details of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed by the Philippines and the United States, which allows increased rotational presence for US troops in the country, Senate President Franklin Drilon said yesterday.

“I think the executive is facing the burden of explaining that this is not a treaty. How does this agreement differ from the bases agreement? And the situation from Subic and Clark?” Drilon added, referring to the US bases that were closed down in Subic and Angeles City in 1992.

Apart from the Palace, the Department of National Defense and Department of Foreign Affairs should also explain the contents of the EDCA.

“There is a need to ask the DND and DFA for an explanation. Let us listen to them justify this EDCA. How does the executive justify that this is not a treaty?” added Drilon, an administration ally.

“What is the difference of this agreement and a treaty that this does not need the ratification and concurrence of the Senate, which has the treaty-making authority,” he said.

Drilon said the executive department however should be accorded presumption of regularity when they signed the agreement with their counterparts from the US. But that the document itself is complicated and might be misconstrued as blanket approval for bases.

“Hindi po madali itong EDCA. Alam mo ito ay masalimuot. Marami ring nagsasabi na maraming magtatayo ng base militar, alam mo, sa ating patakaran ay mayroong presumption of constitutionality sa isang agreement, at mayroong regularity in the performance of function sa mga nag-negotiate nito,” Drilon told radio station dzBB.

Drilon said EDCA could be reviewed by the Senate upon filing of a proper resolution by the Senate committee on national defense chaired by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

However, Drilon said the issue of constitutionality should be better left to the decision of the Supreme Court.

Balikatan set to start amid sea row By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 5, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - This year’s Balikatan military exercises start today.

It comes a week after the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was signed amid China’s aggressive moves to stake its maritime territorial claims.

Balikatan and EDCA arose from the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) requiring the Philippines and the US to maintain and develop capacities to resist armed attacks.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg will attend the opening rites in Camp Aguinaldo at 9 a.m.

Other key personalities witnessing the event are Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista and exercise directors Maj. Gen. Emeraldo Magnaye and Lt. Gen. Terry Robling.

Around 3,000 Filipino soldiers and 2,500 American troops are expected to join the exercises in various camps nationwide.

Balikatan 2014, the 30th iteration of the annual bilateral exercise, will end on May 16.

In a statement, Lt. Annaleah Cazcarro, Balikatan public affairs officer, said this year’s exercise will be on maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, and humanitarian civic assistance.

“Balikatan 2014 is structured to further develop the AFP crisis-action planning, enhance its ability to effectively conduct counterterrorism operations, and promote interoperability with the US Armed Forces,” she said.

Staff planning exercises will be held in Camp Aguinaldo and in Armed Forces Western Command in Palawan, the province nearest to the disputed Spratly islands.

Field training exercises will be in Clark Air Base in Pampanga, Crow Valley in Tarlac and Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

Absent in this year’s itinerary is the roundtable discussion on disaster preparedness in which China took part last year.

China pulled off a surprise last year when it joined the roundtable discussion involving 11 countries.

Among them were the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand, South Korea and the US.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Senators’ caucus on Edca Monday By Christian V. Esguerra Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:45 am | Monday, May 5th, 2014


The senators are expected to tackle the agreement in a caucus when sessions resume Monday. Senate President Franklin Drilon, a member of President Aquino’s Liberal Party, said the Senate should have been “consulted” prior to the signing of the agreement on April 28, three hours before US President Barack Obama arrived in Manila for an overnight visit. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

MANILA, Philippines—The Senate cannot compel Malacañang to submit the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) for ratification, but the Palace should have been “prudent” enough to consult the senators before sealing the deal with the United States, Senate President Franklin Drilon said on Sunday.

Drilon maintained that the agreement enjoyed a “presumption of constitutionality,” citing also the presumption of “regularity in the performance of functions” by the members of the Philippine panel that negotiated with the United States.

“We cannot force them to submit [the agreement for ratification], that’s why it’s better to bring the matter to the Supreme Court, which could order that it be submitted to the Senate,” Drilon said in Filipino in an interview on dzBB radio.

Drilon, a member of President Aquino’s Liberal Party, said the Senate should have been “consulted” prior to the signing of the agreement on April 28, three hours before US President Barack Obama arrived in Manila for an overnight visit.

“Of course, prudence would have dictated that there should have been consultation, but the executive branch thought that it had already briefed and consulted with the appropriate Senate committees,” Drilon said.

The senators are expected to tackle the agreement in a caucus when sessions resume Monday.

Drilon said he did receive a “regular update” on the status of negotiations prior to the signing of the new defense agreement.

Executive’s burden

He said the “burden” was with the executive branch to explain why it does not consider the agreement a new treaty.
“How is it different from the bases agreement, from the situations before in Subic and Clark?” he asked, referring to the US military bases that were shut down in 1991.

“[How is it different that Malacañang says it] is not a treaty that needs ratification and concurrence of the Senate, which has treaty-making authority? How does the executive explain this is not a treaty? We will listen to all this in the coming days,” he added.

The 10-year agreement is a framework deal designed to further military cooperation between the Philippines and the United States.

It gives US forces temporary access to selected Philippine military camps and allows them to preposition fighter jets and ships.

The agreement does not specify how many additional US troops will be deployed “on temporary and rotational basis,” but Filipino and American officials will determine the number depending on the scale of joint military activities to be held in Philippine camps.

Malacañang insists the agreement is a mere executive agreement so that it does not require ratification by the Senate.

Going around Constitution

Former Sen. Joker Arroyo said on Saturday that the agreement was the Aquino administration’s way to go around the constitutional provision banning foreign military bases on Philippine territory.

“This is even worse. You allow your bases to be used by the American forces,” Arroyo said.

Responding to Arroyo’s criticism, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said Sunday that the agreement has a “clear provision that the US will not establish a permanent military presence or base in the Philippines.”

Sen. Grace Poe, another administration ally, said on Sunday that the agreement has “many good points,” and that she also considers the deal an executive agreement, not a treaty. But she asked how it would apply in case the Philippines was attacked.

“My question is: Let’s say there’s an invasion, we are attacked, how fast will the Americans come to our assistance? Will they still go through a UN (United Nations) resolution?” she said on Nimfa Ravelo’s program on dzBB.

Poe was referring to Article 1 of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), which was cited in the preamble of the new agreement. It states that both the United States and the Philippines “undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international disputes in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered.”

The MDT also states that both parties would “refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”

Poe was also concerned about how the new agreement would be applied if American troops committed a crime while in the Philippines.

“What would be the liability if one of them commits a crime? How do we protect our people, our women?” she asked.

Asked why the agreement was signed even without details of the “agreed locations” or bases to be accessed by US troops, Drilon said the implementation of the new agreement should be “watched closely.”

Under the agreement, US “access to and use of facilities and areas will be at the invitation of the Philippines and with full respect for the Philippine Constitution and Philippine laws.”

‘Vague, open-ended’

But the militant party-list group Bayan Muna sees the agreement as giving the United States unlimited access to Philippine bases and its forces unlimited privileges in the country because of many “vague and open-ended” provisions.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said in a statement that the agreement’s declaration that it would only be for an initial 10-year term was unnecessary and deceptive.

“They could have stated one year or 100 years and it would not have mattered because the [agreement] will only end if it is ‘terminated by either party’ and not because its term has expired,” Colmenares said.—
With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan

Joker Arroyo: Clever ruse skirts Charter By TJ Burgonio Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:35 am | Sunday, May 4th, 2014


Sen. Joker Arroyo. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Aquino administration has “cleverly” gotten around the constitutional prohibition on the establishment of foreign bases in the country by allowing the use of Philippine military facilities by United States forces under a new agreement on defense cooperation, former Sen. Joker Arroyo said on Saturday.

“The Constitution forbids foreign bases. [But] this is even worse. You allow your bases to be used by the American forces,” Arroyo said in a phone interview.

The mere act of allowing US forces “unimpeded access” to Philippine military facilities constitutes basing, which is prohibited by the Constitution, he said.

“What you can’t do directly, you can’t do indirectly … What is forbidden is forbidden,” Arroyo stressed.

He said the constitutional prohibition does not make a distinction between small or big bases. “It simply says bases.”

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca), signed last Monday in time for US President Barack Obama’s visit to the Philippines, grants US forces unimpeded access to and operational control of “agreed locations.”

So far, the US has requested access to its former bases in Clark and Subic, as well as Poro Point, La Union, and the Camp Aguinaldo military headquarters, sources in the military said.

Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, who headed the government panel that negotiated the new agreement, insisted that the Edca was not a treaty that would require Senate ratification.

The new agreement merely continues the policies set forth by the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the US, he said.

But Arroyo argued that the Edca “could not rise above” the MDT, which he pointed out makes no reference to bases.

“Nowhere in the MDT in 1951 did the Philippines agree that the US can have military bases in the Philippines, which the 1987 Constitution forbids, without a treaty. Nor did the MDT envision that Philippine military bases could be shared with and jointly used by a foreign power,” he said.

He said the Edca had powers that went beyond what was allowed by the MDT and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Arroyo noted that the VFA provided for “transient and rotational” US troops. The Edca, by contrast, allows the entry of “unlimited” US troops during a 10-year period, as well as the construction of US facilities in the agreed locations, he said.

“The spring can’t rise above its source, as the saying goes,” he added.

“Thus, it’s fallacious for the executive [branch] to say that the Edca is just ‘in furtherance of the MDT and within the context of the VFA,’” he said.

Given that it pertains to “a policy of the highest order,” the Edca should be scrutinized by the Senate and the House of Representatives, Arroyo said.

“The problem of the Philippines is one of security, and therefore decisions thereon require a policy of the highest order. And when it comes to policy of the highest order, it cannot be made by the President alone, but by the political departments of the government, namely, the executive and the legislature,” he said.

“In short, all hands on deck. Nothing can be lost, but much can be gained by this consultation and openness,” Arroyo added.

Arroyo reminded government officials that the Philippines was caught in the middle of a “high-stakes, strategic poker game” between the US and China.

“A wrong move on our part would involve incalculable damage to us, not to China or the US,” he said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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