(The Philippine Star)
MANILA, Philippines - The military maintained that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States would be beneficial to the country even as President Aquino is facing an impeachment complaint over the controversial deal.
Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said the EDCA would enhance the military’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations.
“If it (EDCA) is delayed, we might not be able to respond immediately if there are strong typhoons. We want to pre-position HADR equipment, airplanes and boats. There will be a big effect if we do not (implement it),” he told reporters at the Navy headquarters in Manila last Tuesday.
Catapang believes the delayed implementation of the agreement can hamper efforts to protect the public and the state.
Catapang was asked to react to the move of militant groups last Thursday to file an impeachment complaint against the President over EDCA, a deal that would provide the US greater access to Philippine bases.
Militant groups believe that the signing of EDCA constituted a culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.
hree petitions questioning the constitutionality of EDCA have also been filed before the Supreme Court.
The first petition was filed by former Senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada, two of the twelve lawmakers who favored the shutdown of US bases in the Philippines in 1991.
They claimed that EDCA has no legal basis because the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the US has been superseded by the 1987 Constitution, which renounces war as a national policy.
The second petition was filed by lawmakers who belong to the Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives and leaders of different groups. They argue that EDCA would only benefit the US and could lead to “a derogation of our country’s dignity and an unconscionable sellout of our sovereignty.”