METRO MANILA, PHILIPPINES- That was the position of Atty. Harry Roque when asked about possible repercussions of a contrary ruling of the Supreme Court regarding the Senate Resolution against the validity and effectivity of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
The EDCA has been signed by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg in April last year, as part of the defense pact between the US and the Philippines. It has been characterized as an executive agreement, which supporters say is valid even without Senate concurrence. Those against it emphasize that in all respects it was a treaty, which required approval of the Senate for it to be valid.
Atty. Roque has long been opposing EDCA, and has in fact filed with the Supreme Court to declare it invalid, together with Former Senator Rene Saguisag, Dean Pacifico Agabin, and lawyers Rachel Pastores and Evalyn Ursua. Their group has now found strong political support in the said Senate resolution.
“The Santiago resolution reiterated the letter and spirit of the highest law of the land,” Atty. Harry Roque said. “An SC ruling to the contrary may render the Justices liable to impeachment for culpable violation of the Constitution.”
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago proposed said resolution to Senate, with thirteen other Senators concurring: Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Francis Escudero, Teofisto Guingona III, Manuel Lapid, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Sergio Osmeña III, Aquilino Pimentel III, Grace Poe, Ralph Recto and Cynthia Villar.
Sen. Pia Cayetano, while absent during the vote, signified her support for the resolution.
Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile abstained, while only Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV objected to it.
“Even though the SC is the interpreter of the Constitution, it cannot ignore well-defined constitutional powers of the Senate, such as giving concurrence to treaties,” Roque added.
Atty. Roque is the former Director of the Institute of International Legal Studies at the UP Law Center, a position he has held for more twelve years. He is also a professor of Constitutional and International Law at the UP College of Law. He gave up his academic tenure to run for the 2016 elections under the party-list KABAYAN.
“While the Senate resolution is a political act,” Atty. Roque notes, “so is the act of impeachment. And that is why it is important for the SC Justices to follow the letter of the Constitution, otherwise they may be liable for impeachment.”