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US access to RP military facilities unconstitutional


LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors…” (Isaiah 53:12, the Holy Bible).

“SALAMAT PO NG MARAMI”:I thank God, in the name of Jesus, that He generously allowed me to complete my first week as a regular co-anchor at the program which is titled  "Tambalang Batas at Somintac" last Friday, April 11, 2014, over radio station DZEC, 1062 kHz on the AM band. The program is heard Mondays to Fridays, 6 am to 7 am, and deals with commentaries on politics and society in general.

At the same time, I reiterate my heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Eduardo V. Manalo, the venerable Executive Minister of the powerful Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC), for his gracious permission for my joining DZEC (Eagle Broadcasting Company) as a co-anchor of the INC station. Indeed, I can't thank Ka Eduardo enough, knowing fully well that his decision favored me over many other individuals dying to be given a slot at DZEC.

My first week at DZEC saw me trying to catch up and be at par somehow with the station's Vic Somintac, its Malacanang reporter whose grasp of the important issues of the day is amazingly clear. In the meantime, Ka Eduardo's trusted officers, Ka Erds Codera, Ka TJ Orosa, Ka Nelson Lubao and Ka Laila Tumanan (DZEC's station manager), continue being kind to me. Salamat po ng marami!!!

ALLOWING US ACCESS TO RP MILITARY FACILITIES IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL: I am afraid of the announcement made by Philippine Ambassador to the US, Jose Cuisia, that the US and the Philippines have already reached an agreement allowing access to and use of Philippine military facilities by US troops. Cuisia's announcement made it appear that this agreement is already a done deal under the so-called "Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement".

Is Cuisia---and, by extension, the Aquino government---saying that the access to, and use of, Philippine military facilities by US troops no longer needed the ratification of, or the concurrence by, the Philippine Senate before they are allowed to happen? This is a dangerous proposition to make, considering the strict phraseology of the 1987 Constitution, with respect to the presence of foreign troops in the country.             Here is that Constitutional provision, in its Section 25, Art. 18: “After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning military bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate..”    

VFA DOES NOT ALLOW US USE OF RP MILITARY FACILITIES: Clearly, there is an existing absolute prohibition against any foreign troops in the Philippines, unless there is a treaty that is first concurred in by the Philippine Senate. There is no mistaking the intent of the 1987 Constitution on this issue: any presence of foreign troops in the Philippines, whether inside or outside any Philippine military base, must be allowed under a treaty that the Senate concurred in.        
What is more, this proposed access to, and use of, Philippine military facilities by US troops cannot be justified under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), simply because the VFA was meant to cover only “visits” of US military and civilian personnel in the Philippines for certain well-defined activities. But there is nothing in the VFA about access to, and use of, Philippine military facilities by US troops.             Maybe it was deliberate, but it is clear that while the VFA has been phrased in such a way as to allow US troops and aircraft and vessels operated by, or for, the US armed forces, to come into and “visit” the Philippines, upon prior approval by the Philippine government, there is absolutely nothing in the VFA which allows those troops, vessels and aircraft to be used in Philippine military facilities.   

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