Miriam insists EDCA invalid, renews call to junk VFA: “Let us assert our sovereignty”

  • Presidential aspirant Miriam Defensor-Santiago insists on the invalidity of EDCA
  • Santiago urges her colleagues in the Senate to renew call for the junking of the VFA
  • Santiago says SC decision on EDCA diminished the Senate’s treaty-making power 

MANILA – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Sunday insisted on the unconstitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States and renewed the call for the abolition of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Days after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of EDCA, Santiago urged her colleagues in the Senate to ask for a renegotiation or abrogation of the VFA.

According to the presidential aspirant, the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) to uphold the legality of the EDCA contradicted the power vested by the Constitution on the Senate to ratify treaties, an article by Jefferson Antiporda on The Manila Times said.

“Philippine sovereignty, as well as the rights and dignity of its citizens suffered immensely during the 17 years of operation of the VFA. Let us assert our sovereignty and call for the total abrogation of this agreement,” the senator said.

Santiago, chairperson of the Senate legislative oversight committee on the VFA, asked her fellow senators to reiterate the position they took against the agreement in 2009.

She said the SC diminished the treaty-making powers of the Senate when it ruled that the EDCA did not need the Senate’s approval since it was not a treaty but an “implementing agreement” of the VFA.

Santiago, the author of Senate Resolution 1414, expressing the strong sense of the chamber that EDCA requires Senate concurrence, pointed out that the Constitution is clear that “without Senate concurrence, no treaty can become law.”

“Now, the court is saying that the executive may call agreements by another name in order to bypass the Senate,” she said in a statement.

In a story on GMA News, Santiago further claimed that the VFA defeats the purpose of the government’s military modernization.

 “It may be argued that because of the VFA, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has not felt the need to modernize sufficiently,” she said.

According to Aries Joseph Hegina’s story published on the Inquirer, Santiago, who chairs the Senate committee on foreign relations, also insisted the theory that the new agreement finds its validity on the VFA is flawed.

She cited Article 18, Section 25 of the Constitution which says “foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate…. and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

“The Constitution is clear that if an agreement pertains to foreign military bases, troops, or facilities, it must be (1) in the form of a treaty, (2) concurred in by the Senate, and (3) recognized as a treaty by the other contracting state,” Santiago said.

“The EDCA is invalid for two reasons: The executive claims that it is not a treaty but merely an executive agreement, and it was not submitted to the Senate for concurrence. The flaw of the VFA, meanwhile, lies in the fact that it is not considered a treaty by the US,” she added.