MANILA, Philippines – Resigned Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile on Friday warned that the issue of granting the United States and other allied countries “temporary access” to Philippine military bases might be brought before the Supreme Court.
“I don’t know whether you can do that. That will become an issue before the Supreme Court,” Enrile told reporters.
“Because I don’t know whether we can establish a refuelling station for them. They can visit and refuel but to establish a facility for them in the Philippines, that’s only a subterfuge in effect to go around the prohibition of the Constitution,” he said.
Enrile said visiting forces can come to and refuel in the Philippines but they could not put their fuel and all ammunition in any of the military bases here.
If the Philippines indeed wants to give the US and other allied nations access to its military bases, Enrile said it may amend the Constitution or enter into a new treaty arrangement with these countries.
But in a separate statement, Senator Loren Legarda, head of the Senate committee on foreign relations, said that access to Philippine military may be done “but strictly under the purview of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).”
“The VFA will continue to be enforced to ensure that US military presence remains within the bounds of the VFA framework. The same is true with other countries where we have existing Status of Visiting Forces Agreements already ratified by the Senate,” Legarda said.
“As it is there are joint exercises and initiatives, and to a certain extent, access to our facilities is allowed but according to well-defined terms. Under this scenario, there is no need for renewed Senate approval,’’ she explained.