Resolving the EDCA controversy

I am concerned that the decision unnecessarily expands executive power over foreign policy. Justice Carpio’s argument for Edca as justified by our need to have a military alliance with the United States against China reinforces this concern. This is too important to leave only to the President; the people through its elected representatives must be involved in the decision.

~ Tony La Viña


  1. manuelbuencamino

    The issue was whether or not Edca is a treaty. The SC ruled it was not.

    Did the SC, in reaching its decision, redefine the nature, scope, and meaning of a treaty? If it did then La Viña can point out where the SC erred.

    But if the SC did not go out of bounds, then it’s just another case of one’s medicine is another’s poison.

    I hope La Viña points out where the SC erred in deciding that Edca is not a treaty and therefore not needing ratification by the Senate.

    That way we don’t go off on tangents like who is pro-US and who is not; who is more protective of checks and balances and who is not; who is the truer representative of the people – the elected President or the elected senators?

    Let’s stick to the issue.

      • manuelbuencamino

        Permit me to show you where I’m coming from before I give my yes or no to your question.

        The Constitution gives the President the power to decide on matters that do not reach the level of treaties.
        (1) Why give the President that power?
        (2) Is the President wrong to exercise that power?
        (3) In the case of EDCA, was there wide-spread opposition to his exercise of that power?
        (4) Did the public pay attention or make themselves heard in such an important and critical issue?

        Now granting EDCA should have gone through the ratification process because it is too important and critical for one person to decide:

        Executive agreements are politically binding. Treaties are legally binding. Executive agreements bind chief executives, their successors are not necessarily bound by previous EAs; treaties bind the entire government for as long as the treaty is in effect.

        (1) If EDCA went through the ratification process and the President decides he wants to introduce amendments/changes to it, will he once again have to submit the amendments/changes for ratification?

        (2) If the President decides to renounce, withdraw, terminate, or not to fully implement terms and conditions of a ratified EDCA without first getting the advice and consent of the Senate, will he run afoul of the law?

        (3) EDCA is merely an implementing mechanism of the VFA which was ratified by the Senate. Shouldn’t fulfilling, amending, or renouncing the terms and provisions of EDCA, for better or for worse, lie exclusively in the hands of whomever the voting public elected President?

        The next president can throw EDCA out the window if he wants to without the need for advice and consent of the Senate, right?

        And so the answer to your question “tama ba na something so important and critical like EDCA is for the president-only to decide?” is yes. As a practical matter, yes.

        (1) what is easier to amend, renounce, or even not to live up to, an executive agreement or a treaty?
        (2) regardless of its language, EDCA is just an agreement between Aquino and Obama over the implementation of the terms and conditions of the VFA, why would the successor of either be bound by everything they agreed upon?

        For one opposed to EDCA, I think the call for ratification is premised on the belief that the Senate will not ratify it. I think that’s an unrealistic presumption because politicians are unpredictable.

        So I think the real questions that opponents of EDCA should ask – the question that does not discount the possibility that the Senate could ratify it – are:

        Do you really want to risk it being ratified as a treaty?

        (1) How deep a commitment do you want the Philippines to have with regards to EDCA?
        (2) Do you want a commitment between chief executives or a commitment by the entire government for as long as the treaty is in effect?
        (3) Do you really want to gamble on whether or not it will be ratified?

        For the above reasons, I prefer EDCA to remain an executive agreement. Let’s see how it works out first before we consider turning it into a treaty

  2. Batang Genyo, Ala-eh

    Agree. Since EDCA is only mechanism
    To implement and serves as a tool
    To confirm and enhance the mutual defense commitment, the Constitution gives the President political latitude to sign agreements which serves to support legal foreign policy direction without the risk of legislative intervention.