MANILA – The Supreme Court on Friday was asked to dismiss the petitions nullifying the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) which gives the United States more access to the military bases in the country.
The Office of the Solicitor General said in a 32-oage consolidated comment that President Aquino aims to “promote national security interests” in the 10-year agreement with the US.
“Under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, the President, as head of State and chief representative of government, has the prime duty to serve and protect the people,” read the pleading of the nine-member OSG panel.
The Edca only aims to enhance the implementation of the on-going agreement and treaties of the country with the US, including the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), according to acting Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.
“What the Edca does is to enhance the existing contractual security apparatus between the Philippines and the US, set up through the MDT and the VFA. It is the duty of the Honorable Court to allow this security apparatus enough breathing space to respond to perceived, anticipated, and actual exigencies,” he said.
He added that the agreement is vital in addressing both the external and the internal concerns of the country.
He said that Edca is important on providing security measures needed “to achieve a minimum credible defense to the manifold security concerns in the West Philippine Sea.”
He, thus, said that the court “should not render the President helpless or impair his ability to set up a national security apparatus in the face of clear, present, and verified reports of activities that endanger the integrity of the Philippine State.”
He further reminded the court of the separation of powers adding that the court has “invariably maintained a deferential attitude to executive decisions on matters of national security.”
“In any case, the exercise of the authority to uphold national security has barely any limitations, for the President must be given the widest latitude in balancing the nation’s limited options and calibrating his responses to ensure their maximum intended effect,” the OSG said.
“Judicial deference to decisions relating to national security is also required by the principle of separation of powers,” it added.