As SC upholds EDCA, expect more human rights violations and environmental crimes

January 12, 2016

By Kalikasan PNE

Environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) expressed its strong condemnation of the recent move of the Supreme Court (SC) in upholding the controversial Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) as constitutional.

“With the validation of EDCA as being legal by the SC, we expect more nuclear armed and powered US vessels to enter in our country and roam our territories. Increased presence of US troops will consequently cause more destructive military exercises and maneuvering even within protected and environmentally critical areas, and more incidents of toxic waste dumping similar to what we have already experienced in the past. Today is a very sad day for our country’s sovereignty and environment,” says Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Voting 10 in favor, 4 against, and one abstain, the Supreme Court declared EDCA as constitutional today. It took more than a year for the SC to decide on the case.

“This move has once again proved that SC is just a rubber stamp for the US military’s interventionist policies in our country. The SC previously upheld the Visiting Forces Agreement as constitutional, and recently junked the Writ of Kalikasan against the US Navy for the damages it inflicted upon the Tubbataha Reef National Park. Not to mention various outstanding injustices such as the continuing US military custody of the rapist Cpl. Daniel Smith,” said Bautista.

“It baffles us why the SC says the EDCA is constitutional. In the SC’s previous decision junking the Writ of Kalikasan on Tubbataha US grounding, they have stated how EDCA and VFA cannot hold the US Navy accountable for the Tubbataha incident. This demonstrates how toothless these one-sided military agreements are, yet our courts continue to favor the US’ military empire,” Bautista furthered.

In January 17, 2012, US Navy ship USS Guardian trespassed into the Tubbataha Reef, a world heritage site, overriding local maritime authorities and destroying a large swath of pristine reef ecosystems in the process.

In September 2014, the SC junked the Writ of Kalikasan petition filed by various personalities and groups, including Kalikasan, which demandied justice and appropriate compensation from the grounding incident. According to the SC, while there are clear violations of law, the US are not liable under the EDCA, VFA, or any other Philippine law.

“There is no other recourse for us but to continue the people’s struggle against the interventionism of foreign military forces and bases in the country. As long as interventionist military agreements like EDCA and VFA continue, expect more environmental crimes and human rights violations coming from US forces. The Filipino people arduously campaigned to kick out US military bases from our country up to the early 90s, there is no reason for us not to be able to do the same with EDCA and VFA,” Bautista ended.###

Reference: Clemente Bautista, 0922 844 9787