Enrile calls SC ruling courageous
“IT’S A MATTER of necessity for us and, wisely, the Supreme Court made a courageous decision in spite of public reaction, to sustain the Edca (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) to protect the Filipino people and this nation from possible enslavement for centuries by a giant power in Asia,” Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile said on Wednesday.
“That’s a historic decision and in time they will be proven right,” the Senate minority leader and former defense minister said in an interview on Radyo Inquirer of Tuesday’s court decision upholding the constitutionality of the new security deal between the Philippines and the United States.
Given the Philippines’ tense relations with China, it needs to ally itself with the United States to be able to protect the nation, Enrile said.
Under the Edca, US military forces would have access to Philippine facilities, construct required infrastructure and preposition assets there.
Welcoming the court decision, Enrile said that despite a P3-trillion budget this year, the Philippines did not have the capability to secure the country in the face of aggressive Chinese moves in disputed areas in the South China Sea.
Enrile said the Philippines set the confrontational tone on its dealings with China when it went to the United Nations arbitral tribunal to challenge Beijing’s claim over most of the South China Sea.
“The worse you can do to China, based on the commentaries of experts and historians, is to make them lose face,” said the veteran senator.
Repairing the ties won’t be easy, he said. “So what do we have to do? We have to act on our own and since we can’t act on our own, we have to ally ourselves with a stronger power and that is America,” he said.
He also pointed to his recent statement that the Philippines had to stay with the United States, given the country’s present condition, to survive.
Senate President Franklin Drilon, in a television interview, Wednesday brushed aside speculation that the Edca would lead to the establishment of US bases in the country, stressing the arrangement simply implements the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.
“If there would be a base built, there should be a new treaty that should be ratified by the Senate. No foreign military base in the Philippines under the Edca,” he said.
He said the VFA was the controlling agreement, and the agreement had long been in effect but no bases had been put up in the Philippines.
Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Wednesday he was standing by his earlier position that the Edca should have been ratified by the Senate for it to be valid.
Marcos was among 14 senators who earlier adopted a resolution, authored by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, taking the position that the Edca was a treaty, not an executive agreement, and hence needed Senate concurrence for it to be valid.
“It’s a cause for wonder why this was made an executive agreement. [The executive] is probably afraid that it would not be passed, that it would not be ratified by the Senate,” Marcos said in a statement. “I am not against the Edca itself, what I’m saying is that is the role of the Senate, to ratify a treaty,” he said.
About 100 members of the militant League of Filipino Students Wednesday held a rally at the US Embassy in Manila, denouncing the Edca and the court ruling as a “violation of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” With a report from Annelle Tayao-Juego
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