Without Senate nod, EDCA violates Constitution - senators

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Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — By an overwhelming majority, the Senate adopted on Tuesday (November 10) a resolution expressing a "strong sense" of senators that — without their concurrence — the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was a treaty prohibited under the Constitution.

Voting 15-1-3, the lawmakers agreed with Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago who authored the resolution that the EDCA "belongs to the category of prohibited treaty, namely, it is a treaty of foreign military bases, troops, or facilities without the concurrence of the Senate."

PH-US joint military exercises.jpg A joint military exercise by Filipino and American soldiers  

Santiago, a constitutional expert and chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, insisted that "other than concurrence of the Senate, no authority expressly transforms a treaty into law" — citing the Treaty Clause of the Constitution, Article 7, Section 21 which states: "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."

Besides Santiago, those who voted in favor of the resolution were Sens. Juan Edgardo Angara, Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito, Francis Escudero, TG Guingona III, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Serge Osmeña, Aquilino Pimentel III, Grace Poe, Ralph Recto, Cynthia Villar, and Pia Cayetano.

Plenary approval formalizes Senate Resolution No. 1414 as the Senate's position on the question of the validity and effectivity of the EDCA, on which the Supreme Court (SC) is reportedly set to decide on before U.S. President Barack Obama visits Manila.

Only Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV voted against the resolution, deferring to the decision of the high tribunal. Similarly, Senate President Franklin Drilon and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile abstained. Sen. Paolo Benign "Bam" Aquino IV, who was not in session during the vote, later manifested his abstention.

The Senate statement on EDCA comes a week before Obama's expected arrival in the Philippines for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meet on November 18 and 19, along with heads of state of other APEC members.

Santiago added that she hoped the SC would consider the strong statement from the Senate "with decisive concern."