Malacañang welcomed the Supreme Court ruling that declared the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) constitutional, saying it will help modernize the Philippine armed forces and enhance the country's ability to respond to disasters.
"The Supreme Court’s affirmative decision on the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement strengthens the strategic partnership between the Philippines and the United States that is founded on two other important building blocks: the Mutual Defense Treaty; and the Visiting Forces Agreement," Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement.
"This ruling boosts the ongoing Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Modernization Program and paves the way for upgrading our military equipment and capability for national defense, as well as for humanitarian assistance and disaster response."
Citing a statement from President Benigno S. Aquino III, he said one of the benefits of EDCA would be to introduce the AFP to the "most modern equipment… and have a generational leap in our abilities".
The Supreme Court upheld the legality of EDCA between the Philippines and the US with a 10-4 vote.
The decision, written by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, ruled that EDCA is an Executive Agreement, not a treaty.
The High Court said that under Article 18, Section 25 of the Philippine Constitution, the President can enter into an executive agreement on foreign military bases, troops, or facilities, so long as it does not allow the presence of foreign military bases, troops or facilities, or it merely aims to implement an existing law or treaty.
The EDCA also does not need Senate ratification, the Court said.
Petitioners said the EDCA violates several provisions of the Constitution, including the ban on foreign military bases and facilities without Senate concurrence.
They also argued that the EDCA might facilitate the entry of nuclear weapons into the Philippines, which is barred by the 1987 Constitution.
The EDCA, with an effectivity of 10 years, was signed during the state visit of US President Barack Obama in April last year. (PCOO News Release)