Lawmaker: EDCA signing an impeachable offense

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Friday, July 4, 2014

THE recent signing of the new Philippines-United States access agreement may prove to be another ground for impeachment of President Benigno Aquino III, a party-list lawmaker said Friday.

Several groups have filed petitions before the Supreme Court seeking to nullify the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Manila and Washington, which was signed sans a review of the Senate.

Kabataan Party-list Representative Terry Ridon said Aquino could face impeachment threat if the High Court declares EDCA unconstitutional.

"The Philippine Constitution clearly states that our sovereign nation should pursue an independent foreign policy. By approving EDCA, President Benigno Aquino III may have committed another culpable violation of the Constitution, apart from his liability over the Disbursement Acceleration Program," Ridon said.

The youth lawmaker was referring to Article II Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution, which states, "The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states, the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination."

Militant groups said this week Aquino could face impeachment threat after the Supreme Court declared parts of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.

They said the President and a Budget Secretary Florencio Abad committed culpable violation of the constitution for the creation of the DAP funds, which was allegedly used as incentive to senators who voted for the impeachment of then Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Signed last April, EDCA seeks to increase rotational presence and the use of extant Philippine military bases by the visiting US troops.

Government officials have earlier revealed that under EDCA, the US military will be able to access three to five Philippine military bases including those in Fort Magsaysay and Subic. EDCA also allows US troops to have rent-free access of bases, camps, facilities, roads, ports and unspecified "agreed locations" in the Philippines.

"EDCA is clearly a lopsided deal that will usher in a renewed era of American occupation in the Philippines. The Aquino regime has let this deal pass without the benefit of public scrutiny and without considering its dire ramifications for our country," Ridon said.

He added that nowhere in the agreement could one find a commitment for defense against foreign military aggression.

"We can't even sue the US for violations of the terms of agreement. Not in Philippine courts, not in international tribunals… it's a clear travesty of our sovereignty and a grave violation of our Constitution," Ridon stressed.

Petitions questioning the legality of a deal were filed by militant groups Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada.

"We are confident that the SC will once again strike this access agreement down as unconstitutional. And when that moment comes, Aquino should be ready to pack his things and go," Ridon said. (Sunnex)

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