We will still kick the US Bases out

 

By Herman Tiu Laurel

 

The loud mouth and poisoned pen of Richard Heydarian, presstitute of the US war-industry who is funded by the Stratbase-ADRI-CSIS quotes the words of US “Proxy-dent” Bongbong Marcos, Jr. that the  “pivot towards the US is dividing his coalition government.” This only demonstrates the imminent and ultimate ejection of the US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) Bases from the Philippines.

 

                In his recent article in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), a publication asserting the Western geopolitical perspective, which is owned by the Alibaba-controlled by the Japan’s Softbank and Goldman Sachs groups, Richard Heydarian wrote further that “Philippine power struggles add to Marcos Jr’s tough US-China balancing act” that depict national fragmentation stemming from the EDCA bases.

 

                It’s just been six months ago since Bongbong Marcos pulled a shocking betrayal of his stated views in the 2016 Senate debates on the status of the EDCA. Then, Senator Marcos signed a resolution with 14 other senators, including the chief EDCA-opponent Miriam Defensor Santiago, that EDCA is “invalid and ineffective” unless ratified by the Senate.

 

                 On February 2, 2023, Philippine mainstream media reported the announcement of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (not from the Philippine government) that the Philippines will provide the US with expanded access to “its military bases” and four new locations to the five already in place, which has now expanded to 17 sites, according to President Duterte.        

 

                 Just over a week later after the Austin announcement, the craven president dared to speak out in an informal setting aboard PR 001, responding to ambush interviews that he had yet to decide on the new, additional locations for EDCA sites. Never has Bongbong Marcos faced the nation formally to explain his abrupt about-face on the EDCA bases. Truly treacherous and shameless.

 

                  In leading the 15 senators who voted to declare the EDCA Bases illegal in 2016, the late Senator Miriam D. Santiago repeatedly cited Art. 18, Sec. 25 of the Philippine Constitution that states:

 

“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 and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

 

With the backing of the Americans and their lackeys, the Noynoy administration conducted its political machinations, using false charges to oust then SC Chief Justice Rene Corona and replace him with the unqualified but compliant Justice Lourdes Sereno. This successor gave a pass to the illegal EDCA, declaring it supplementary to the equally illegal VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement), also a supplement to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), that is a mere addendum to the 1951 Military Bases Agreement (MBA).

 

            Sereno has since been ousted from the Supreme Court, her appointment nullified in May 2018 after a quo warranto case against her succeeded. She was the first constitutional officer in the Philippines to be ousted from office without an impeachment because of blatant unethical practice. Sereno was found to be unqualified ab initio, hence never qualified to the post of Supreme Court justice – but she had already achieved her mission of re-installing the U.S. Bases.

 

The US-funded news site Rappler highlights Sereno’s bias in a 2014 report, “Justices to EDCA critics: How to defend West PHL Sea?’…Listening to the way she grilled for 45 minutes and demolished the arguments of a counsel of the petitioners against the PH-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)… it appears Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is the biggest defender of the pact.”, despite the clear admonition of the 1987 Constitution against “presence of foreign military bases.”

 

 What Sereno did was to skirt the Constitutional ban on foreign military bases by claiming that EDCA “enables” the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). However even US war-industry scholar-hack Dr. Renato de Castro affirmed in a September 25,2021 article that the MDT is “deemed as a mere supplementary agreement” or “an addendum to the 1947 RP-US Military Bases Agreement (MBA)” which the Philippines terminated on September 16, 1991. How then can this justify the EDCA?

 

De Castro goes into a similar Sereno act, twisting like the contortionist in a circus b claiming “Two developments … led to the MDT’s transformation from a mere supplementary agreement… to being the legal cornerstone of 21st Century Philippines-US alliance… the withdrawal of the American forces from the Philippine base in November 1992 and the US and Philippine decision to keep their alliance. “But a supplementary agreement or an addendum cannot survive the demise of its source – the MBA.

 

 This is what the late Ambassador Alberto Encomienda, former Philippine ambassador to Singapore, Malaysia and Greece said repeatedly about the MDT years before his passing in 2021, “The MDT is overtaken by events and become irrelevant” even adding that “… especially after formation of the ASEAN in 1967 to replace SEATO when there was no longer any military threat in Asia.” I have many recorded interviews with Ambassador Encomienda on TV as evidence.

 

The 1987 Constitution is very clear that the MBA, fountainhead of the MDT, is dead “After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of American concerning military bases…”But despite the obvious unconstitutionality and illegality of the presence of the US EDCA Bases, the Philippines seems stuck with its perilous presence within its territory as it invites imminent doom and gloom from an Asian war being plotted openly by  the warmongering US..

 

            For a while, it seemed to be a hopeless situation for the Philippines because of the Sereno Supreme Court constitutional legerdemain. But a few months back, I hosted a discussion to tackle the problem, with former Senator and now Manila Times columnist Francisco “Kit” Tatad, Asian Century thinktank director Ado Paglinawan and former party-list congressman Carlos Zarate, an anti-EDCA petitioner in 2014 and his lawyer-colleague,, along with lawyer Rafael Tuvera.

 

            In his Manila Times column, Senator Kit Tatad has repeatedly expressed his position that EDCA is illegal and unconstitutional, citing the same constitutional provisions as did the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and all others who oppose the Sereno Supreme Court endorsement of the EDCA. I texted the issue to Atty. Salvador Panelo who expressed interest, saying he would study the matter despite his very busy calendar of TV shows, meetings and business travels.

 

            Certainly, there is great interest and support for questioning of the Sereno Supreme Court’s anomalous decision on the EDCA issue. However, the daunting question is, would the present Supreme Court even consider a petition seeking the court to reverse itself? Daunting but not impossible as the Supreme Court reversed its 2008 decision in 2018 regarding a labor case; in fact, it should easily b in the realm of probability since the constitutional violation is blatantly clear.

 

Politically, however, the US EDCA Bases question has become a very “hot potato “as it has fractured the political coalition of President Bongbong Marcos’ governance of the country, a fracture that has reached all the way back to his own family. Senator Imee Marcos has continuously interposed remarks and objections critical of the US EDCA Bases rationale, locations, abuses committed by US Air Force warplanes of Philippine airspace.

 

            In the past month, the most powerful voice as well as political force against the US EDCA Bases presence and its continuance has been former President Rodrigo R. Duterte who has voiced his strong fears and disapproval of the presence of the US EDCA Bases. Mr. Duterte has said these could “be used as staging sites should conflict erupt between the US and China” and “America is using us (Philippines) as a pawn… if you (America) decide to go to war because of Taiwan…”

 

            Over several months, President Duterte had been broadcasting his “fear and trembling” over the US EDCA Bases through a single media network SMNI, even as  US-influenced mainstream media ignored his message and almost totally blocked out his message. But his voice could not be suppressed and it has reverberated through the air and social media spaces through SMNI’s YouTube channel that the Americans finally had to shut down despite the 2-million followers of the TV channel.

 

            President Duterte is not the only powerful voice is being suppressed. Another powerful social media voice – Sass Rogando Sasot – has also been shadow banned repeatedly, while my own modestly growing voice over a satellite/cable TV network was also shut down after 15-years and over 700 episodes for its constant opposition to the US EDCA Bases and the politicians behind it. Thanks to the suppression, the voices are getting louder as we witness that the American talking heads are seeing the backlash.

 

            The voice of the masses, students, youth and working-class people was heard in the “Anti-War, Anti-US EDCA Bases, Peace Caravan” launched in June to coincide with the anniversaries of the Malolos Republic’s Declaration of War against the colonizing U.S. forces on June 2, 1899 and the martyrdom of anti-US revolutionary General Antonio Luna on June 5, 1899 on route through Malolos, Bulacan and Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija to end at the “Mecca of Peace in the Philippines” Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Province, the northernmost part of Luzon and closest to Taiwan Island where the Americans are setting up two military bases.

 

            Cagayan Province’s Governor Manuel Mamba is the country’s staunchest campaigner against the establishment of the U.S. bases in his province along with the mayors and the people of Cagayan. The Anti-War Caravan culminated the protest pilgrimage with the speech and call of Gov. Mamba to rally the nation against the foreign bases.

 

 Preparations are being made for similar anti-war, anti-EDCA peace caravans in the Visayas and Mindanao as we write this piece, despite the big struggle to raise the logistics for such major mobilizations. Suffice it to say that there is no lack of will to eject the US EDCA Bases amongst the informed and conscientious political, civic, intellectual leaders and population of the country. In the final analysis, a way must be found to correct the monumental violation of the Constitution by the Sereno court in 2016.

           

            What are the chances of winning a reversal of the Supreme Court 2016 decision on the EDCA? This is a very critical question as an outright dismissal out-of-hand, or the lack of new arguments in a new anti-EDCA petition would only complicate matters further. But Supreme Courts have been known to reverse themselves, particularly in the U.S. after whom the Philippine Supreme Court is patterned. The U.S. Supreme Court has reversed itself 8 times, and the Philippine Supreme Court at least once in 2018.

 

            The 2023 Supreme Court is no longer the same court as during the time of the pro-EDCA Sereno. Thirteen out of the twelve (? – check the match) justices are Duterte appointees, while only Justice Marvic Leonen of the two Noynoy Aquino appointees voted against the EDCA in 2016. There is also a wealth of new developments demonstrating the clear and present danger of the EDCA Bases as well as evidence of the peaceful intentions of the so-called imagined threat of China as it perseveres in peaceful dialogue with the Philippines while providing humanitarian assistance during the Covid 19 Crisis and many more.

 

            Over and above these are the arguments of the 1987 Constitution itself in Article 18, Section 25,:

 

            “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 and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

 
<strong>Herman “Ka Mentong” Tiu Laurel</strong>
Herman “Ka Mentong” Tiu Laurel

is a broadcast journalist. He is a former columnist of Daily Tribune (INFOWARS and DIE HARD III; Mondays and Wednesday) and OpinYon (Consumers’ Demand!, Critic’s Critic, and People’s Struggle; weekly).
He hosted Talk News TV and Journeys: Chronicles of our Asian Century, both on Global News Network.
He is now the host of the radio and live stream program Global Talk News Radio for Radyo Pilipinas 1 – 738AM, which broadcasts every Sunday 8AM to 10AM.
While in quarantine, he is hosting the live stream program Power Thinks on his personal Facebook page Herman Laurel (fb.com/hermantiulaurel) and the Global Talk News Radio Facebook page (fb.com/globaltalknewsradio)
He was also the former Administrator of the Philippine Refugee Processing Center (PRPC; now called the Bataan Technology Park, Inc.) during the administration of Corazon C. Aquino.

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