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SC asked to stop PH-Japan military drills

/ 07:18 PM July 15, 2015

A PARTY-LIST group on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to stop the military exercises between the Philippines and Japan for violating the Constitution.

In a 37-page petition, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), led by Rep. Antonio Tinio, also urged the high court to nullify the Memorandum on Defense Cooperation between Japan and the Philippines signed on January 29, 2015 as well as the Japan-Philippines Joint Declaration on the Strengthened Strategic Partnership for Advancing the Shared Principles and Goals of Peace, Security and Growth in the Region and Beyond, including its annex entitled Action Plan for Strengthening the Strategic Partnership.

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Tinio and the other petitioners—Alliance of Concerned Teachers National Chairman Benjamin Valbuena, ACT for sovereignty spokesman Carl Marc Ramota and ACT Private Schools Vice Chair Mark Benedict Lim–said these memorandum and joint declaration allow the presence in the country of Japanese troops for capacity building, training activities and exercises, service-to-service exchanges, activities for cooperation on defense equipment and technology and the likes in violation of the Constitutional prohibition against the presence of foreign troops.

“The substance of the Memorandum and the Joint Declaration, given that they bring the presence of Japanese military troops in the Philippine territory, require that they be via treaty. Being merely in the form of non-binding agreements, and not having been submitted to the Senate for concurrence and to Congress for deliberation on whether the treaty requires ratification by the people in a national referendum, they should be held unconstitutional, insofar as they are being used as legal bases for the holding of military exercises with the Japanese military,” the petitioners said.

Petitioners added that respondents President Benigno Aquino III, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, AFP Chief of Staff General Hernando Iriberri and Navy Flag Officer In Command Vice Admiral Jesus Millan committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when “they entered into the assailed agreements and implemented the same, mainly through the conduct of joint military drills in Philippine territory with the Japanese Self Defense Forces.”

Petitioners scored on the two military drills between the Japanese and Philippine military, saying forming alliances with other countries amid the West Philippine Sea dispute “should not be at the expense” of the Philippines’ sovereignty and existing laws.

“Petitioners strongly condemn the Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea, and believe that our territory must be defended. We must exhaust all avenues to do so, including the forging of alliances with other countries. But this must be done without sacrificing our sovereignty and within the bounds of the Constitution and existing laws.

“Pursuing an alliance is one thing, but transforming the Philippines into a base of operations for Japanese military forces would be a humiliating act of subservience. For a country formerly occupied by Japan to host Japanese military forces on its territory would be unprecedented in post-World War II history, and President Aquino will earn the ignominy of making it happen,” the petition read.

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TAGS: ACT party-list, Japan, Military exercise, Philippines, Supreme Court
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