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Ahead of APEC meet, Miriam brings EDCA resolution to plenary for debates

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After a long absence at the Senate, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago vowed to work on Monday to sponsor a sense of the Senate resolution that any treaty or international agreement, including the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the U.S., requires Senate concurrence.

Santiago, chairperson of the Senate foreign relations committee, also reiterated her position that the Palace’s decision to implement the EDCA without Senate concurrence, and to downgrade it for signature not by the two presidents but only by a Cabinet official and the U.S. ambassador, is a betrayal of a co-equal branch of government.

“This contretemps does not indicate good faith on the part of the two presidents. The use of guile in diplomacy should be limited to state-to-state situations, and should not include a situation involving only two branches of the same government,” Santiago said.

Santiago will submit the resolution for adoption by the majority amid reports that the Supreme Court is set to rule on the validity of the EDCA prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit on November 18 to 19.

U.S. President Barack Obama, along with other heads of state of APEC members, will be in the Philippines for the summit. Santiago has earlier sent to the Supreme Court a copy of the proposed Senate resolution on EDCA.

A sense of the Senate resolution is a strong statement from the legislative body. The Santiago resolution, in particular, decries how the Senate, with which the President shares treaty-making powers, was sidestepped on the EDCA signed by Manila and Washington in April 2014.

It was clarified in the Santiago resolution, however, that the Senate is not forcing the President to submit any treaty to the Senate for concurrence, abiding by the Supreme Court ruling in the 2005 case of Pimentel v. Office of the Executive Secretary.

“By this resolution, the Senate merely takes a definitive stand on the non-negotiable power of the Senate to decide whether a treaty will be valid and effective, depending on Senate concurrence,” the resolution said.

Besides Santiago, 12 senators have signed Senate Resolution No. 1414. These are Sonny Angara, Pia Cayetano, JV Ejercito, Jinggoy Estrada, TG Guingona, Lito Lapid, Bongbong Marcos, Serge Osmeña, Koko Pimentel, Ralph Recto, Bong Revilla, and Cynthia Villar.

Once sponsored, the resolution will be open to debate on the Senate floor. The resolution will then likely be put to a vote on the same day. Under Senate rules, a simple majority of senators present in a quorum is required to adopt a resolution.