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NUPL opposes US-Ph Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation

Delegates to the 18th Assembly of International Association of Democratic Lawyers have expressed their support to the call of Filipino lawyers for opposition to the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation that will be formalized soon by the United States and the Philippine governments.

This developed as Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares has warned that the Philippine government could be held accountable under international law should the US use its military facilities in the Philippines to commit aggression in other countries.

Colmenares, president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), said delegates to the international lawyers convention in Brussels, Belgium have joined the NUPL in condemning the AEDC as part of US plans to re-establish military bases in the Philippines.

“Many delegates believe that this new basing agreement and the US pivot in Asia will threaten the peace and stability of the region” said Edre U. Olalia, Secretary General of the NUPL.

However, Olalia did not state whether or not a formal written statement was issued by delegates to the IADL.

A draft of the proposed enhanced defense cooperation pact has been submitted for review by President Benigno Aquino III.

Filipinos concerned over China’s continuous acts of bullying over contested territories in the West Philippine sea have speculated that the defense deal will contain provisions that would lead to the modernization of the Philippines outmoded defense equipment.

However, left-leaning Filipinos have rejected the defense pact as part of the US plan to extend military might over the Philipines.

“Support from many lawyers groups worldwide is important in the battle against this attempt by the US for economic and political hegemony in Asia. We will continue to gather as many support from peace advocates and lawyers groups against the latest US initiative to escalate its presence in the Philippines,” he said.

Colmenares recalled that during the IADL discussions, certain legal luminaries from various countries stressed that the “crime of aggression does not only attach to the US but also the country that allows the use of its territory to attack other countries”

“While we condemn China’s aggressive acts in the West Philippine Sea, we will not tolerate aggressive acts of the US which will subject the Filipino people to retaliatory attacks by the many enemies of the US,” said Colmenares, who is a member of the House minority bloc.