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People's Daily Online

Philippine military alliances with U.S., Japan questioned

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 11:08, June 30, 2015

by Alito L. Malinao

MANILA, June 30 -- Two members of the Philippine legislature, one from the House of Representatives and the other from the Senate, have questioned the legality of the Philippine military alliance with the United Statesand Japan.

Antonio Tinio, a party-list legislator, has slammed the two-day maritime exercises between the Philippinesand Japan off Palawan in southern Philippines that ended on June 24 for being unconstitutional and a violation of Philippine sovereignty.

In a statement, Tinio said that President Benigno Aquino III has committed a 'gross and blatant violation' of the constitutional prohibition on foreign troops in the country for allowing the joint maritime exercises.

Under the constitution, the presence of foreign military forces in the Philippine territory is prohibited unless authorized by a treaty ratified by the Senate, Tinio said.

'The Philippines has no existing treaty with Japan allowing the presence of their troops in our country, much less the holding of joint military exercises and conducting Japanese reconnaissance missions from Philippine installations,' he said.

Tinio said that the existing agreement with Japan did not fulfill the constitutional requirement of a Senate-ratified treaty and, therefore, could not be cited as the legal basis for the Japanese military activities in the Philippines.

The legislator was referring to a memorandum of defense cooperation and exchanges signed in January by Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and his Japanese counterpart.

The Philippine-Japan joint military exercises followed the similar joint exercises between the Philippine and U.S. Navies held in the same area earlier.

Tinio said that the Aquino administration's policy of relying on the United States and Japan for its military needs will 'only lead to further subservience, dependency, and an intensification of tensions in the region.'

The lawmaker said he would call for a parliamentary inquiry on the Philippine-Japan military drill.

At the Philippine Senate, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, also chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, has reiterated her call for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed by Manila and Washington in April last year to be submitted for ratification by the Senate.

Santiago said the Philippine Constitution provides that no treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless the Senate had concurred in it.

The EDCA has not been implemented because several petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court questioning the agreement's legality and constitutionality.

Santiago has earlier said that for agreeing to EDCA, President Aquino could be held accountable for 'impeachable offenses' or can be removed from office for violating constitutional provisions.

'These are culpable violations of the constitution and betrayal of public trust for allowing a foreign government to maintain military bases in the country without Senate concurrence,' Santiago said.

While proponents of the EDCA have said that the agreement would be mutually beneficial to the Philippines and the United States, its critics claim that it would give the United States 'rent-free basing rights and other perks.'

Renato Reyes, secretary general of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Nationalist Alliance), said that the U.S. government 'hit a jackpot' because under EDCA, it is allowed to have access to Philippine military facilities rent-free.

'The United States can store or preposition weapons in our country free of charge. They retain operational control of their facilities and would only allow Philippine access based on operational and safety requirements. The United States can even use Philippine bases to deploy U.S. forces overseas,' Reyes added.

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