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Philippine top court orders gov’t to defend Japan drills

July 28, 2015

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine Supreme Court ordered the government Tuesday to defend the legality of recent joint military exercises with Japan following a petition by a left-wing political party.

The Alliance of Concern Teachers party’s petition questions the constitutionality of the exercises, which were held without a treaty being approved by the Senate.

Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said the magistrates ordered President Benigno Aquino III’s office, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and other officials to comment on the petition and explain why the exercises were constitutional.

The party has asked the court to prohibit such exercises by issuing a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction.

It also urged the court to strike down as unconstitutional a memorandum of defense cooperation signed by Philippine and Japanese officials in Tokyo in January, as well as a strategic partnership agreement signed by Aquino and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during Aquino’s visit to Tokyo last month.

A Japanese surveillance plane and about 20 troops held two days of joint training with the Philippine navy last month off the coast of western Palawan, a strategically important island not far from contested islands claimed by several countries, including China and the Philippines.

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