Wednesday, November 19, 2014

EDCA: Too Late the Remedies? By Erick San Juan

This quotation should remind us, especially the people in important positions who will decide the fate of this country when it comes to its security vis-à-vis its sovereignty.

"When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong – these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history." (Winston Churchill)

After the Supreme Court heard the first oral arguments (November 18, 2014) on petitions against the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States, it is clear that what Senator Miriam Santiago pointed out in early May (after a few days that the EDCA was signed in April 18, 2014) about the constitutionality of the said agreement is still the basic argument that violates the law of the land.

The following are the constitutional provisions that were violated because of the EDCA:

Article 7, Sec. 21 “No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.”

Article 18, Sec. 25 “After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of American concerning Military Bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities, shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

Article II, Section 8 of the Constitution prohibiting nuclear weapons in the country.

Unfortunately, during the oral arguments, Supreme Court Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno offered arguments to dismiss petitioners' claim that EDCA requires Senate ratification. Next, she dismissed as "speculative" declarations made by petitioners that EDCA violates territorial integrity and sovereignty and that it is meant only to advance US interests and not the Philippines'.

And when anti-EDCA counsel Rachel Pastores argued that EDCA poses threats to national sovereignty and integrity, Sereno started talking about the incursions in the West Philippine Sea as the "single biggest threat" to the country's security.

The Chief Justice wrapped up to say that expanded US military presence in the country – along with the prepositioning of their ships and other defense assets – may be needed to defend the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). (

I have written several articles on this issue – the presence of Uncle Sam’s military troops and military equipment actually serve as a magnet to all its enemies (not only China) instead of protection against its enemies. The mere fact that during the Scarborough Shoal standoff, the US government did not take any stand or had shown any support for the Philippines. Unlike on the issue of the disputed territories between China and Japan, when China started “bullying” Japan, the US supported the Japanese through its air and naval forces.

The nagging question remains, if push comes to shove (by China), will the Americans give its all out military support to the Philippines (as what we deserve as an ally) in the contested area in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea?

So the statement by CJ Sereno that it is premature to challenge EDCA’s legality based on speculations and past experience, remember – “When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure.”

Are we going to wait for another “Nicole” and “Jennifer” and the possibility of a regional conflict from a simple miscalculation and stupidity by simply kowtowing to a perceived master?

I don't want to be misunderstood. America is a known friend and ally. But we and our government should wake up to the reality that we should protect our nation's interest before it's too late.

I envy the Okinawan people. When I attended the East West Center conference in Okinawa few months back, I have seen the big difference. Its their attitude, discipline and patriotism. Despite their anti-US bases stand, a so called 'house rule' is followed by both parties. You cannot see any US military personnel in their streets, shopping centers, etc except a few at the airport travelling out of Okinawa. You cannot see any bar or night clubs near the US base. Strict discipline is followed.

Respect begets respect. "Walang tutulong sa atin kundi tayo mismo!"          

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