ISSUE: Whether or not the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America (U.S.) constitutional
FACTS: petitioners respectfully pray that the Honorable Court RECONSIDER, REVERSE, AND SET - ASIDE its Decision dated January 12, 2016, and issue a new Decision GRANTING the instant consolidated petitions by declaring the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) entered into by the respondents for the Philippine government, with the United States of America, UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND INVALID and to permanently enjoin its implementation. petitioners claim this Court erred when it ruled that EDCA was not a treaty. In connection to this, petitioners move that EDCA must be in the form of a treaty in order to comply with the constitutional restriction under Section 25, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution on foreign military bases, troops, and facilities. Additionally, they reiterate their arguments on the issues of telecommunications, taxation, and nuclear weapons. Petitioners assert that this Court contradicted itself when it interpreted the word "allowed in" to refer to the initial entry of foreign bases, troops, and facilities, based on the fact that the plain meaning of the provision in question referred to prohibiting the return of foreign bases, troops, and facilities except under a treaty concurred in by the Senate Secondly, by interpreting "allowed in" as referring to an initial entry, the Court has simply applied the plain meaning of the words in the particular provision. Necessarily, once entry has been established by a subsisting treaty, latter instances of entry need not be embodied by a separate treaty. After all, the Constitution did not state that foreign military bases, troops, and facilities shall not subsist or exist in the Philippines.
RATIO DECIDENDI: The EDCA did not go beyond the framework. The entry of US troops has long been authorized under a valid and subsisting treaty, which is the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). Reading the VFA along with the longstanding Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) led this Court to the conclusion that an executive agreement such as the EDCA was well within the bounds of the obligations imposed by both treaties. Thus, we find no reason for EDCA to be declared unconstitutional. It fully conforms to the Philippines' legal regime through the MDT and VFA. It also fully conforms to the government's continued policy to enhance our military capability in the face of various military and humanitarian issues that may arise. This Motion for Reconsideration has not raised any additional legal arguments that warrant revisiting the Decision. Principles: On verba legis interpretation... verba legis Petitioners' own interpretation and application of the verba legis rule will in fact result in an absurdity, which legal construction strictly abhors. The settled rule is that the plain, clear and unambiguous language of the Constitution should be construed as such and should not be given a construction that changes its meaning With due respect, the Honorable Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno's theory of "initial entry" mentioned above ventured into a construction of the provisions of Section 25, Article XVIII of the Constitution which is patently contrary to the plain language and meaning of the said constitutional provision.