The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was signed on 28 April 2014 by Philippines Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg.
Before the EDCA was signed, the document was kept secret from the public and was signed without consulting either the Philippine House of Representatives and the House of Senate. Many expressed that this is not the kind of transparency they expect from the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III.
Dann Pantoja, CEO of PeaceBuilders Community Inc., expressed his concern that the EDCA “was hastened to present it in time with the U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to our country, at the expense of having transparent consultation between the branches of the government.”
“I’m saddened that this friendship and alliance with the United States of America is characterized by militarization,” Pantoja said. “The trauma and wounds of a U.S.-supported military dictatorship is still fresh in our national consciousness,” he added.
“The further militarization of our country will not help in healing the trauma and wounds of armed conflicts we’re just beginning to transform,” Pantoja further said.
At PBCI, we cannot help but question the constitutionality of EDCA:
- Sec. 21 of Article VII of our Constitution says: “No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.”
- Sec. 25 of Article XVIII of the same Constitution says foreign “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.”
In the midst of the disappointing decisions of our political leaders, we are inspired by the official public statement of our national umbrella organization — the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches:
PCEC STATEMENT ON EDCA
In view of the signing of the new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America, we, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), make the following declarations:
We worship the LORD, the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens and the earth and ruler over human history, including the history of the Republic of the Philippines. To the LORD God alone, who is our ultimate security, and to no one else, we must entrust the future of our people and our land.
We declare our supreme allegiance to Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, and the Prince of Peace. Hence, our commitments, actions, and aspirations are subject to the Risen One who holds the universe and our nation together.
We depend on the power of the Holy Spirit who energizes the whole Creation, characterized by love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. We submit our view of personal and national power to the Spirit’s power.
Based on these convictions —
1. We affirm the friendship and the alliance between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America and other likeminded democratic countries. We will support this alliance as equal nations before God, with mutual respect, transparency, and accountability with each other. We will evaluate this alliance based on justice, peace, and righteousness.
2. We express our deep concerns and the serious objections raised by both friends and foes of this government based on constitutional, historical, and practical grounds.
Constitutionally, the agreement seems to contradict the simple and plain language of the constitution. While it is called an agreement (not a treaty that will require the approval of the Senate) it appears to have all the elements of a treaty.
Historically, the agreement reminds the concerned citizens of the few decades of partnership and friendship when many felt we were not treated as equal partners and true friends.
Practically, some serious questions about financial responsibility, true intention of the visiting forces and the help we will get in case of a regional conflict need more clarification.
3. We believe that this document should be able to stand the test of thorough review, criticism and public debate. Therefore,
We recommend a non-partisan review of the EDCA by the Senate of the Philippines to examine whether or not it will truly serve the best interest of our nation. We also expect a possible petition of lawyers’ groups, concerned taxpayers, and other non-government organizations to the Supreme Court about its constitutionality.
4. We trust and hope that our government leaders had the best interest of the nation in mind during the crafting and signing this document and they too will welcome any discussion in the public square.
We are aware that we are dealing with human beings and governments with conflicting interests and motives and that possible hidden agenda may be veiled beneath sweet words and great speeches.
But we look forward to a future when all creation will be redeemed, and the Lord Jesus will reign with justice and righteousness (Psalm 97:1; Rev 11:15). We proclaim with the ancient prophet —
“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Signed: May 9, 2014
Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches
Board of Trustees
For more infomation: please contact Bishop Efraim M. Tendero at 9131655-57 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We, at PeaceBuilders Community, Inc., call on His Excellency President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, cabinet members, government agencies, and the security sector to be true to your stated calling to serve the people and not to sell our freedom for false bases of security!