EDCA will never work for PH interests – lawyers say

Oct. 15, 2014

TAGUM CITY- Lawyers in Manila claimed on Wednesday that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States of America “will never work for the national interest.”

In a phone interview with Davao Today, Harry Roque, a UP professor and Chairperson of Center for International Law, a think-tank dedicated to the promotion of international legal norms in Philippines and Asia, said that “we should learn from history, foreign military presence and national interest do not mix well.”

Roque cited the recent killing of a Filipino transgender Jeffery Laude who was allegedly killed by Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US Navy man in Olongapo City.

“The alleged killing by a U.S. Marine of a Filipina transgender in Subic Bay is proof that the presence of foreign troops on Philippine soil will never work for our national interest,” Roque said.

Roque said “Laude’s case recalls yet again the iniquitous provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement on detention facilities for US servicemen found guilty of violating Philippine laws.”

“The agreement expands the presence of US military forces in various parts of the country, violates the constitutional bar to the establishment of US military bases in the country.”

EDCA is being pushed by the Philippine government as a necessary supplement to the VFA, to enable the country to better address Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

For his part, lawyer and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said “the case proves once again that concerns over the one-sidedness of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) are not imagined.”

“We have seen how Filipinos can become helpless victims by US military forces in our very own country under the unequal agreements like VFA and EDCA,” said Colmenares.

Meanwhile, lawyer and Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate warned that “this may just be the start of more abuses for US troops unless we scrap EDCA which would turn the whole country as a US military base.”

“This is also the reason why we are urging the Supreme Court to junk the EDCA. It is not only unconstitutional and unequal, but most importantly will subvert our justice system and sovereignty,” said Zarate. (davaotoday.com)

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