POSTSCRIPT / November 15, 2015 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Courts not allowed to settle EDCA rows

THE ENHANCED Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States is itself the best argument why the Supreme Court should invalidate it, and why President Noynoy Aquino sorely needs the advice and consent of the treaty-ratifying Senate.

The President, the country’s sole spokesman in foreign affairs, had instructed his plenipotentiary Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to sign on April 28 last year the Phl-US EDCA whoseArticle XI (Resolution of Disputes) provides:

“The Parties agree to resolve any dispute under this Agreement exclusively through consultation between the Parties. Disputes and other matters subject to consultations under this Agreement shall not be referred to any national or international court, tribunal, or other similar body, or to any third party for settlement, unless otherwise agreed by the Parties.”

As the 15-1-3 anti-EDCA vote of the Senate indicates, President Aquino should have consulted first the Senate, among other brain trusts outside Malacañang , and clarified these points in Article XI before concluding the agreement:

*What is the scope of “any dispute” and “other matters” that “shall not be referred to any national or international court, tribunal, or other similar body, or to any third party for settlement”? The scope, if defined already, should be made public.

*Does “any dispute” include criminal cases involving American military personnel and Pentagon contractors already covered by Article V on criminal jurisdiction of the older Phl-US Visiting Forces Agreement? If yes, why the change in jurisdiction?

With this seeming reckless exercise of Executive discretion, one wonders if Malacañang even attempted in the negotiations to have Philippine courts acquire original jurisdiction over certain, not all, disputes or criminal cases arising from the EDCA.

• The consistent inconsistency is amazing

THE GLARING lack of consistency in dealing with parallel situations is also amazing. It is curious, for instance, that:

1. The US insists on a MULTILATERAL approach to settling territorial disputes between the Philippines and China — but made President Aquino agree to having EDCA disputes settled exclusively through BILATERAL discussions between the Philippines and the US.

2. The Philippines, with US support, pushed for a United Nations arbitration of its differences with China — but agreed with the US that disputes under EDCA shall not be referred “to any court, tribunal, or other similar body, or to any third party for settlement.”

Even if the SC majority wants to welcome US President Barack Obama this week with a ruling that the EDCA, being a mere executive agreement, is not unconstitutional without Senate concurrence, the tribunal should first make a serious effort to clarify the intent and implications of Article XI.

The High Court may want to help deliver a shock treatment to cure the bad habit of President Aquino of embarking on major initiatives (such as the Bangsamoro adventure) without prior consultations with stakeholders.

CDC cops plum Asia CEO award

CLARK Development Corp. was presented last Wednesday this year’s Executive Leadership Team category in the Asia CEO Awards, besting other top corporations in the government and private sectors.

The Asia CEO Awards, presented by PLDT Alpha Enterprise, is the biggest event of its kind in the Philippines and one of the largest in Asia. The finalists in the category included Concepcion Industrial Corp, Hedcor, Inc., Integrated Micro Electronics, Inc., Magsaysay Maritime Corp, Megaworld Corp., PAGIBIG Fund, Philex Mining Corp., Pointwest Technologies Corp., and, Security Bank Corp.

CDC president and CEO Arthur P. Tugade, who was also among the finalists in the Global Filipino Executive of the Year category, attributed CDC’s recognition to the superb performance of its officers and employees.

He said: “Talagang may Diyos, alam po Niya ang hirap, dusa at pasakit na aming dinaanan at pinagdaraanan sa government service. Recognitions like this are redeeming, vindicating and very inspiring. Ito po ay para sa bayan.”

Bases Conversion and Development Authority president/CEO Arnel Casanova, also a finalist in the Global Filipino Executive of the Year category, told CDC executives: “I am proud of our CDC team. We have proven that public servants can be the best.”

The judges in the Asia CEO Awards were: Dr. Bernie Villegas, economist; Jun Palafox, urban planner; Don Felbaum, of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines; Eduard Eun-Gap Gang, president of Korean Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines; John Casey, former president of Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce; Oscar Sanez, VP for International, San Miguel Purefoods; and Richard Mills, former president of Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines and Chairman of the Asia CEO Awards.

The leadership of CDC was cited for reforms instituted in business processes, resource and fiscal management, investment and job generation, investor relations, corporate social responsibility and other aspects.

Among the CDC accomplishments noted were:

*Investments — Committed investments rose from $184.44 million in 2012 to $277.15 million in 2014.  As of 1st semester of 2015 committed investments amounted to $237.13 million.

*Investors/Locators — The number of foreign and local investors rose from 606 in 2012 to 796 as of August 2015.

*Exports — Total value of annual exports by Clark manufacturing firms rose from $3.619 billion in 2012 to $4.675 billion in 2014.

*Employment — The number of employees of Clark Freeport’s locators rose from 71,073 in 2012 to 75,538 in 2014.  As of 1st semester of 2015, the total actual employment was 80,977.

*Revenues — Gross revenues rose from P281 million in 1996 to P1.39 Billion in 2014, netting a profit of P554 million.

*Remittance to National Treasury – Remittances to the national government totaled P1.35 billion since 2012.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 15, 2015)

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