UNITED States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg over the weekend assured the public that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the Philippines and the US would be used to secure the country’s sovereignty and integrity without violating Philippine Constitution.
During a Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) regular meeting, Goldberg said Edca would help the Philippines establish a minimum credible defense in the West Philippine Sea following the continued territorial dispute with China.
Philconsa is headed by Lakas Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte.
The Edca—which seeks to expand US military activity in the Philippines through increased rotational presence and the use of extant Philippine military bases—will have a timeframe of 10 years, which means that it will be in effect until April 2024.
Goldberg assured the Philconsa that Edca would not violate the Constitution and cater to mutual Philippine and US interests.
“I know the importance of this organization [Philconsa] but mostly I know the importance of the constitutional law in any society, in any democratic society and the need to follow the Constitution to be able to have a just and free society,” Goldberg said, adding Edca would pass a constitutionality test after some groups questioned its legality before the Supreme Court (SC).
“Applications are to be determined through mutual consent and locations and at sizes that are mutually beneficial and to be decided together through the mutual defense word and through discussions. Nothing will be done without the consent of the Philippine government,” Goldberg said.
On Friday Kilusang Mayo Uno and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees joined the clamor for the SC to scrap the newly signed Edca for being unconstitutional.
Goldberg said Edca was an executive agreement and does not need Senate ratification because there would be no US military bases to be established.
“It as an executive agreement and no US bases are coming back to the Philippines,” said Goldberg, adding that Edca will help boost the country’s territorial defense.
“Edca aims to help the Philippines create a military that is able to create a credible minimum defense, maritime security and maritime domain awareness,” he said.
Romualdez said he was satisfied on how Goldberg explained to them the contents of Edca during the group’s regular membership meeting.
Romualdez, a lawyer, said the cardinal duty of the government is to guarantee the security and safety of its sovereignty under the Constitution.
Anything that goes for securing the country will supersede any other technical and legal infirmities that may seemingly pose. The ultimate goal of the Constitution is to secure the nation, anything that lends itself to that, we are quite supportive of,” Romualdez said.
Philconsa is the oldest association of the country’s legal luminaries whose main objective is to defend, protect and preserve the Constitution.
Lawyer Manuel Lazaro, Philconsa chairman and CEO, agreed with Romualdez, saying that securing the country’s sovereignty is the prime duty of the government and the citizens under Article II of the Constitution.
“To question Edca for alleged non-observance or violation of Section 25, Article XVIII of the Constitution prohibiting foreign military bases, troops or facilities, except under a treaty concurred in by the Senate, is to sire a constitutional collision with the imminent or cardinal duty of the government and its citizens to secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of its national territory,” Lazaro said.
Written by Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz