Philconsa backs edca
Published : Saturday, June 28, 2014 00:00
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THE Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) on Thursday evening backed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) after United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg assured that the pact would be used to secure the country’s sovereignty and the integrity of its national territory without violating the Constitution.
1st District ‘FM’ Romualdez, Philconsa president, said he was satisfied on how Goldberg explained to them the contents of EDCA during the group’s regular membership meeting held at the Manila Golf and Country Club in Makati City.
Romualdez, a lawyer, explained that the cardinal duty of the government is to guarantee the security and safety of its sovereignty under the Constitution.
“Anything that goes for securing the country will supersede any other technical and legal infirmities that it may seemingly pose. The ultimate goal of the Constitution is to secure the nation, anything that leads itself to that, we are quite supportive of,” Romualdez told reporters after the event where Goldberg was a guest of honor and speaker.
“The speech of Ambassador Goldberg was very enlightening. We are glad from what the ambassador has been saying that it would not be controversial as said to be,” Romualdez stressed.
“At the end of the day, the Philconsa is for protecting and defending the Constitution. The Constitution talks about securing the Filipino people, anything that enhances this ability we are supportive of,” he said.
Philconsa is the oldest association of the country’s legal luminaries whose main objective is to defend, protect and preserve the Constitution.
Goldberg said EDCA would help the Philippines establish a minimum credible defense in the West Philippine Sea in light of the continued China’s bullying.
According to reports, the EDCA — which seeks to expand US military activity in the Philippines through increased rotational presence and the use of extant Philippine military bases — will have a timeframe of 10 years, which means that it will be in effect until April 2024.
Retired Supreme Court (SC) Justice Manuel Lazaro, Philconsa chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), agreed with Romualdez, saying securing the country’s sovereignty is the prime duty of the government and the citizens under Article II of the Constitution.
“To question EDCA for alleged non-observance or violation of Sec. 25, Article XVIII of the Constitution prohibiting foreign military bases, troops or facilities, except under a treaty concurred in by the Senate, is to sire a constitutional collision with the imminent or cardinal duty of the government and its citizens to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of its national territory,” Lazaro explained.
During his speech, Goldberg assured the Philconsa that EDCA would not violate the Constitution and would cater to mutual interests of the Philippines and US.
“I know of the importance of this organization (Philconsa), but mostly, I know the importance of the constitutional law in any society, in any democratic society and the need to follow the Constitution to be able to have a just and free society,” Goldberg told the crowd, adding EDCA will pass constitutionality test after some groups questioned its legality.
“Applications to be determined through mutual consent and locations and at sizes that are mutually beneficial and to be decided together through the mutual defense word and through discussions.
Nothing will be done without the consent of the Philippine government,” Goldberg assured.
Goldberg said EDCA was an Executive agreement and does not need Senate ratification because there would be no US military bases to be established.
“It as an Executive agreement and no US bases would be coming back to the Philippines,” said Goldberg as he admitted that Asia-Pacific is very important for US in terms of trade and alliance.
He said EDCA will help boost the country’s territorial defense.
“EDCA aims to help the Philippines create a military that is able to create a credible minimum defense, maritime security and maritime domain awareness,” he said.
The US ambassador stressed that EDCA is mutually beneficial to the Philippines and US.
“This is an agreement that in our view that is mutually beneficial and it’s one that won’t go forward unless we both agree. It’s one that doesn’t create new bases, it creates the ability for the United States to be present here on rotational basis,” said Goldberg.Ryan Ponce Pacpaco