Philippines' court declares pact allowing U.S. troops in local camps constitutional

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday declared as constitutional a defence pact that allows American forces, warships and planes to temporarily base in local military camps, in a boost to U.S.

See Full Article

efforts to reassert its presence in Asia as China rises to regional dominance.

Ten of the 15 members of the high court also ruled that the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement, which was signed by U.S. and Philippine officials in 2014 and has a 10-year lifespan, is an executive agreement that does not need Senate approval, court spokesman Theodore Te said.

"EDCA is not constitutionally infirm as an executive agreement," Te said at a news conference after the justices' long-awaited vote.

The ruling will bolster U.S. efforts to reassert its presence in Asia and dovetails with Philippine efforts to harness America's help in addressing China's aggressive acts in the disputed South China Sea.

Washington immediately welcomed the court's decision, saying the defence pact is a mutually beneficial accord that will bolster both countries' ability to respond to disasters and strengthen the Philippines' military.

Left-wing activists said they would consider filing an appeal, adding that U.S. military presence won't solve the country's worries over China in the disputed waters.

"This is another sad day for Philippine sovereignty," said left-wing activist Renato Reyes, who was one of those who challenged the legality of the defence accord before the high court. "We maintain that the EDCA is not the solution to the problems of China's incursions."

The Department of Foreign Affairs said that with the court's decision, the Philippines and the U.S. can finalize the full implementation of an agreement that is a critical component of efforts to strengthen national security and disaster relief capabilities.

"This decision bodes well for deepening our defenceco-operation with a key ally," and will "redound to improving our capability to perform our mandate to protect our people and secure the state," said armed forces chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri.

The court decision came ahead of high-level U.S.-Philippine talks Tuesday in Washington on defence, security and economic co-operation. Speaking ahead of the talks, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario welcomed the ruling.

"Both the United States and the Philippines recognize the importance of the EDCA as an important security component in our treaty alliance," del Rosario told The Associated Press.

The Philippines has turned to Washington as it scrambles to strengthen its military, one of the most ill-equipped in Asia, to deal with an increasingly assertive China in the South China Sea.

Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma said the court's ruling boosts the ongoing military modernization program, and will introduce the armed forces to the "most modern equipment," which will allow "a generational leap in our abilities."

The long-simmering disputes involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have escalated in recent years. Tensions have been especially high since Beijing transformed seven disputed reefs into islands on which it is now constructing runways and facilities that rival claimants say can be used militarily in an already very tense region.

Nearly a century of U.S. military presence in the Philippines ended in 1992 when Americans shut their bases, including the largest military facilities outside the U.S. mainland, after Filipino senators voted a year earlier not to renew the lease on the bases amid a tide of nationalism.

A resurgent territorial dispute with China in the mid-1990s, however, prompted Manila to reach out to Washington. In 1998, the U.S. and the Philippines signed the Visiting Forces Agreement, allowing large numbers of American forces to return to the country for joint military exercises each year.

The 2014 defence pact allows the Americans to stay in facilities within Philippine military camps, where they can also station warships and fighter jets in a presence that Filipino officials hope will serve as a deterrent against Chinese aggression in disputed territories.

At least eight local camps have been designated as harbouring areas for the Americans, including some located near the South China Sea and in areas prone to natural disasters, according to the Philippine military.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Syria: ISIS militants defeated in last major stronghold

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT -- Pro-government forces defeated the Islamic State group in its last major stronghold in Syria, state media and a monitoring group reported on Sunday, leaving the militants to defend just strips of desert territory in the country and a besieged pocket outside the capital, Damascus. Source
  • TransCanada sends more crews to South Dakota's Keystone pipeline leak

    World News CBC News
    TransCanada Corp. says the company has sent additional crews and equipment to the site of a 795,000-litre oil spill from its Keystone pipeline in South Dakota. TransCanada said Saturday it is making progress in its investigation into the cause of the spill on farmland in Marshall County, near the North Dakota border, about 400 kilometres west of Minneapolis. Source
  • Canada faces Russia-linked cyberthreats at home and abroad, NATO chief says

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- The head of NATO is urging Canada to be vigilant about the threat of Russian cyberwarfare both on the battlefield and at home. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said Canadian troops in Latvia are being smeared by Russia-backed online propaganda aimed at undermining the alliance, and it may not be long before Canada sees similar tactics being waged within its borders. Source
  • Norway's king hospitalized with infection

    World News CTV News
    HELSINKI - Norway's royal palace says King Harald has been hospitalized with an infection and remains in satisfactory condition with improving health. The royal palace said in a short statement Sunday that the 80-year-old monarch is being treated at an Oslo hospital where he was taken Friday but didn't disclose further details. Source
  • Violent evictions, homelessness are the cost of Lagos, Nigeria's megacity

    World News CBC News
    "I was born and brought up in Otodo Gbame community," says 31-year-old Julius Oladele, sitting with his feet burning on the hot sand strewn with broken glass, bamboo and corrugated iron sheets. "They came in November 2016. Source
  • Police question Israeli leader over corruption accusations

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- Police have arrived at the official residence of Israel's prime minister in what is believed to be part of an investigation into corruption allegations. Police have previously questioned Benjamin Netanyahu over allegations that he received gifts from Hollywood and business figures. Source
  • 1 dead after training exercise at CFB Shilo

    Canada News CTV News
    One person is dead following a training exercise at CFB Shilo, a spokesperson for the Canadian Forces tells CTV News. "Family notification is still ongoing. We will not release any further information until that has been properly ?completed," Lori Truscott said in an emailed statement. Source
  • One person was killed in an accident during training at CFB Shilo

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA - One person is dead after an accident during training exercises at the Canadian Forces base in Shilo, Man. Very little information is available yet about the incident which occurred on the base 35 kilometres east of Brandon, Man. Source
  • Key players in Zimbabwe's political crisis

    World News CBC News
    A lot has happened in the past few days in Zimbabwe, where the world's oldest head of state tries to remain in power even under military house arrest. Thousands of giddy Zimbabweans have poured in the streets to demand his departure, tired of a collapsing economy that once was one of Africa's strongest. Source
  • Canadians win team relay silver at luge World Cup

    Canada News CBC News
    Canada earned a medal in the first team relay event of the season at the luge World Cup in Innsbruck, Austria, on Sunday. Alex Gough, Mitchel Malyk, Tristan Walker, and Justin Snith combined to finish 0.358 seconds behind the German sleds. Source