3rd petition filed vs Edca

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Friday, June 27, 2014

WORKERS have joined two other groups in questioning the legality of a deal allowing larger American military presence in the Philippines aimed at making the country more capable to respond to calamities and security threats.

In a petition filed with the Supreme Court (SC), the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) said Friday the Aquino government committed grave abuse of discretion and violated the Constitution when it signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) with the United States.

The alleged constitutional violations include those pertaining to 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 other countries, specifically military treaties.

KMU and Courage asked the high tribunal to nullify the Edca, prevent the Aquino government from implementing any of the agreement's provisions, and issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the deal while the petition is being heard.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Emmanuel Bautista and the country's negotiating panel for Edca were named respondents in the petition.

Two previous petitions were filed by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and former Senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada.

However, the SC did not stop the implementation of Edca as it required the government on June 3 to file its comment on the petitions.

Militant groups believe that the Edca permits the US government to establish military bases anywhere in the Philippines, allowing them to build structures and store and preposition weapons, defense supplies and materiel, station troops, civilian personnel and defense contractors, and transit and station vehicles, vessels and aircraft.

Manila and Washington insisted that the Edca will not set the stage for the return of American military bases to the Philippines, unless backed by a treaty ratified by the Senate.

"As there was no treaty concurred in by the Senate it follows that the Edca is unconstitutional," the petition read.

The Edca, which has an initial term of 10 years, was signed in time for the state visit of US President Barack Obama on April 28 as part of his four-nation Asian tour. (Sunnex)

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