EDCA Digest

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Rene A.V. Saguisag v. Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa
G.R. No. 212426 & 212444; January 12, 2016
Ponente: C.J. Sereno
FACTS: The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is an executive agreement that
gives U.S. troops, planes and ships increased rotational presence in Philippine military bases and
allows the U.S. to build facilities to store fuel and equipment there. It was signed against the
backdrop of the Philippines' maritime dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea.
The US embassy and DFA exchanged diplomatic notes confirming all necessary requirements for the
agreement to take force. The agreement was signed on April 2014. President Benigno Aquino III
ratified the same on June 2014. It was not submitted to Congress on the understanding that
to do so was no longer necessary.
Petitions for Certiorari were filed before the Supreme Court assailing the constitutionality of the
agreement. Herein petitioners now contend that it should have been concurred by the senate as it is
not an executive agreement. The Senate issued Senate Resolution No. 105 expressing a strong
sense that in order for EDCA to be valid and binding, it must first be transmitted to the Senate for
deliberation and concurrence.
ISSUE: Whether or not the EDCA between the Philippines and the U.S. is constitutional.
RULING: YES. The EDCA is an executive agreement and does not need the Senate's
concurrence. As an executive agreement, it remains consistent with existing laws and
treaties that it purports to implement.
Petitioners contend that the EDCA must be in the form of a treaty duly concurred by Senate. They
hinge their argument under the following Constitutional provisions:

Sec. 21, Art. VII: “No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless
concurred in by at least 2/3rds of all the Members of the Senate.”

Section 25, Article XVIII: “ xxx 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 xxx ”
The President, however, may enter into an executive agreement on foreign military
bases, troops, or facilities, if (a) it is not the instrument that allows the presence of
foreign military bases, troops, or facilities; or (b) it merely aims to implement an existing
law or treaty
In Commissioner of Customs v. Eastern Sea Trading: Executive Agreements
are defined as international agreements embodying adjustments of detail carrying out wellestablished national policies and traditions and those involving arrangements of a more or less
temporary nature.
Treaties are formal documents which require ratification with the approval of two-thirds of the
Senate. The right of the Executive to enter into binding agreements without the necessity of
subsequent Congressional approval has been confirmed by long usage.
The Visiting Forces Agreement – a treaty ratified by the Senate in 1999 – already allowed the return
of US troops. EDCA is consistent with the content, purpose, and framework of the Mutual Defense
Treaty and the VFA. The practice of resorting to executive agreements in adjusting the details of a
law or a treaty that already deals with the presence of foreign military forces is not at all unusual in
this jurisdiction.
In order to keep the peace in its archipelago and to sustain itself at the same time against the
destructive forces of nature, the Philippines will need friends. Who they are, and what form the
friendships will take, are for the President to decide. The only restriction is what the Constitution
itself expressly prohibits. EDCA is not constitutionally infirm. As an executive agreement, it remains
consistent with existing laws and treaties that it purports to implement.
Petition is DISMISSED.
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