Second of 3 parts
THIS is a most despicable thing that a Filipino in a position of power has done to justify the violation of the Constitution and to surrender our sovereignty to a foreign superpower.
In the span of two years, the Supreme Court deliberated on several petitions filed in 2014 asking the high court to declare the Aquino 3rd administration’s Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) unconstitutional.
The agreement was signed April 28, 2014, a condition for US President Barack Obama’s visit to the Philippines. He arrived hours after the treaty was inked. Indeed, the EDCA meant a restoration of US military bases, which the 1987 Constitution categorically required to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Senate. EDCA authorizes the US to stockpile their war materiel and station its combat for-deployment troops in five of our military camps, whenever they wish so.
The Supreme Court led by Aquino 3rd’s chief justice, Maria Lourdes Sereno dragged its feet for two years in making a ruling. When it finally had to decide, then Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who has been the most strident Yellow propagandist against China, convinced his colleagues to turn a blind eye to its obvious constitutional requirement of having the Senate ratify it.
He scared the justices out of their wits: if they invalidate the EDCA, China would very soon be grabbing all of our territories in the Spratlys.
How soon? Next year, Carpio said during the 2016 deliberations. As he explained in his concurring opinion to the decision penned by Sereno: “With the anticipated installation by China of military facilities and war materials in its three bases in the Spratlys, expected to be completed before the end of 2016, China will begin to aggressively enforce its nine-dash lines claim over the South China Sea (which claim encompasses the West Philippine Sea and the Kalayaan Island Group).”
Carpio even warned the Supreme Court that without EDCA, China might even take over the Malampaya gas rigs, “which supplies 40 percent of the energy requirement of Luzon, as China’s nine-dash lines encroaches partly on Malampaya.”
Carpio claimed the Supreme Court cannot delay the implementation of EDCA: “With the completion of China’s air and naval bases before the end of 2016, the Philippines has no time to acquire, install and operate an anti-ship missile system on its own. There is only one power on earth that can deter China militarily from enforcing its nine-dash-line claim, and that power is the United States. This is why the MDT [and EDCA as its necessary implementation] is utterly crucial to the Philippines’ defense of its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea.”
Carpio even pretended to be an expert in modern military strategy in his concurring opinion, claiming the following without a single source for his pretended expert views:
“In modern warfare, the successful implementation of a mutual defense treaty requires the strategic pre-positioning of war materials. Before the advent of guided missiles and drones, wars could take months or even years to prosecute. There was plenty of time to conscript and train soldiers, manufacture guns and artillery, and ship war materials to strategic locations even after the war had started. Today, wars could be won or lost in the first few weeks or even first few days after the initial outbreak of war.
“In modern warfare, the pre-positioning of war materials, like mobile anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, is absolutely necessary and essential to a successful defense against armed aggression, particularly for a coastal state like the Philippines. This is what the EDCA is all about — the pre-positioning in strategic locations of war materials to successfully resist any armed aggression.”
That is all BS, Justices Marvic Leonen (remarkably as he is an appointee of Aquino 3rd) and Arturo Brion (Arroyo’s) in effect said in their dissenting opinions. “Carpio’s view is a surrender to the dual narrative of expediency and a hegemonic view of the world from the eyes of a single superpower, the US,” Leonen wrote.
Justice Brion warned the court: “Our history tells us that we cannot simply turn a blind eye to our Constitution without compromising the very same interests that we as a nation want to protect through a decision that looks only at the immediate practical view. To lightly regard our Constitution now as we did in the past is to open the way to future weightier transgressions that may ultimately be at the expense of the Filipino people.”
A justice disclosed at the time: “Carpio told us that he got his information that China will soon be grabbing our territories from ‘unimpeachable sources’. “Who of course everyone assumed was his intellectual mentor and fellow China-hater, Fidel Ramos’ national security adviser Jose Almonte, who of course most assumed got his information from the highest levels of the US intelligence community.”
“And after all, the South China Sea dispute and superpower geopolitics were really Greek to us that we didn’t bother to question Carpio’s claims, especially about an imminent Chinese invasion,” the justice said.
Thus eight other justices voted to junk the petitions against EDCA, making it a majority decision. That the eight justices either were fooled by Carpio’s false claims or that they were really not interested in the issue is indicated by the fact that none of them bothered to write concurring opinions.
In contrast, other than Leonen and Brion, two other justices voted against the majority, Estela Perlas-Bernabe (appointed by Aquino 3rd) and Teresita de Castro (by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo), who both urged the court to comply with the Constitution and let the Senate decide on whether to approve or not the EDCA. Three of these dissenters wrote lengthy, even impassioned dissenting opinions, as the quotes above from Leonen and Brion show.
After very clearly and lengthily showing that no way can the EDCA be treated as merely an extension of the Visiting Forces Agreement (which merely authorizes joint military exercises without any word on storage of US war materiel nor using our camps as forward bases for combat), de Castro pointed out:
“There is no reasonable and legitimate ground to violate the Constitution. The Constitution should never be violated by anyone. Right or wrong, the President, Congress, the Court…have no choice but to follow the Constitution. Any act, however noble its intentions, is void if it violates the Constitution. This rule is basic.”
She ended her dissenting opinion: “While it is true that the Philippines cannot stand alone and will need friends within and beyond this region of the world, still we cannot offend our Constitution and bargain away our sovereignty.”
For an Aquino 3rd appointee, Leonen, in his dissenting opinion, demonstrated a remarkable sense of nationalism:
“In 1991, there was the ‘Senate that said no’ to the extension of the stay of military bases of the United States within Philippine territory. That historical decision defined the patriotism implicit in our sovereignty. That act was the pinnacle of decades of people’s struggles.
History will now record that in 2016, it is this Supreme Court that said yes to the EDCA. This decision now darkens the colors of what is left of our sovereignty as defined in our Constitution.”
Four years have passed, and Carpio’s claims made in court of People’s Liberation Army troops invading South China Sea islands occupied by other countries are now obviously concoctions made by US propagandists. The invasion Carpio was shouting about turned out to be of Chinese staff in online gambling outfits pushing property prices up and of bureaucrats evaluating if Chinese loans were being used for their declared purposes.
Carpio’s rants border on treason as these allegations were intended to justify a new form of US bases here, for the superpower to strengthen its military projection in this part of the world in order to contain the rise of China as a superpower.
Leonen actually was condemned Carpio’s claims, saying in his dissenting opinion that these made up “a narrative of dependence to a superpower. Our collective memories are perilously short. Our sense of history is wanting.”
Carpio’s claims in this case certainly raises the question whether he was lawyering for the US government, or for First Pacific Co., whose ambition to become an oil and gas giant was stopped dead in the water when Chinese government vessels blocked its exploration vessel Veritas Voyager from the Reed Bank, which China, Vietnam and the Philippines are claiming. (I have emailed Carpio twice to respond to this latter claims; no reply.)
As I have quoted the 18th century English writer Samuel Johnson before to expose the bankruptcy of fake nationalists in the South China Sea debate: “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”
Duterte must restore our nation’s integrity, which the past Yellow regime dragged to the mud in its subservience to the US in the latter’s effort to maintain its hegemony in Asia.
He does not even have to rescind the EDCA. Especially as he is a lawyer, all he has to do is to declare that unlike Aquino 3rd who ignored the Senate, he is asking it now to ratify or junk it in order to be faithful to the Constitution. In fact, Sen. Imee Marcos filed a resolution more than a year ago in January 2020 asking the Senate to review EDCA. What the heck are Duterte’s senators doing?
Aren’t we ashamed that tiny nations that had exactly the same EDCAs — Bulgaria and Romania — had their parliaments first approve such US bases on their soil?
On Friday: Debunking the lies Carpio told SC