SC orders Malacañang, DND to comment on leftist group petition against PHL, Japan defense agreements

The Supreme Court (SC) en banc on Tuesday ordered the Office of the President (OP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) to comment on the petition against the defense agreements entered into between the Philippines and Japan. In a press conference, SC Public Information Office (PIO) Chief and Spokesman Atty. Theodore O. Te said that “the Court required respondents to COMMENT on the petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with prayer for TRO (temporary restraining order) and injunction within ten (10) days from receipt of notice.”

The case involves the petition filed by leftist Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio, National Chairman Benjamin Valbuena and the other officials of the group.

Aside from the “Memorandum on Defense Cooperation and Exchanges” between the Japan Ministry of Defense and the Department of National Defense of the Philippines, the petitioners also questioned the “Japan-Philippines Joint Declaration: A Strengthened Strategic Partnership for Advancing the Shared Principles and Goals of Peace, Security and Growth in the Region and Beyond”.

The first agreement was signed on Jan. 29, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan and the second agreement was executed in Tokyo on June 4, 2015.

The petitioners argued that the questioned agreements paved the way for the presence of Japanese troops in the country and in fact, they already participated in two military exercises conducted in Corregidor Island last May and at the Antonio Bautista Airbase in Puerto Princesa City last June.

They claimed that the joint military exercises between the Philippines and Japan conducted pursuant to these two instruments involve Japanese troops, ships, aircraft and equipment setting foot on Philippine territory and is, thus, prohibited under Article VIII, Section 25 of the 1987 Constitution without a treaty concurred in by the Senate and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.