SC justices asked questions on EDCA, West PHL Sea

The Supreme Court started hearing oral arguments for Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) Tuesday, November 18. Supreme Court Justices will determine whether EDCA is constitutional or not based on the oral arguments presented by both ends.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno asked petitioners who are against EDCA, “I see our islands in the West Philippine Sea being overtaken. What is wrong with prepositioning? How long does it take for a missile to reach Palawan?”

Sereno also asked that if Philippine government brought the case of territorial dispute in an international court, “isn’t that a fact that we must explore all means?”

“Isn’t that the greatest threat when our fishing grounds are no longer accessible to us?”

Petitioners believe that with EDCA, US will be able to position unlimited warships, weapons and troops. They also added that number and location for bases for US military are not yet specified.

“We have a problem here,” Chief Justice Sereno said. “We cannot presume the factual situation; we cannot paint for the people a situation where the facts are not yet presented before us.”

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio also asked Atty. Harry Roque how he will advise the President in case China made an attack inside Philippine territory. Roque answered, he will advise the President to do everything except strengthening the Philippines’ alliance with the United States.

Roque believes Philippine government will have no operational control over US military’s activities under EDCA.

“There could be no argument for the unconstitutionality,” Associate Justice Jose Perez said.

“This should have been given to the Senate because they are your representatives,” Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

On November 25, Solicitor General Florin Hilba will present arguments to defend EDCA’s constitutionality.