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The Catholic Professionals Society PNG (CPS PNG) alongside fellow civil society partners yesterday held a press conference cautioning the PNG Government not to rush into signing the Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with the United States.

CPS PNG President, Paul Harricknen stressed that such should not be signed until Parliament has debated and sanctioned it through the Parliamentary Committee for Defense and Foreign Affairs chaired by Vanimo Green MP Hon Belden Namah.

“Proper and transparent processes have to be followed to avoid possible breaches of the National Constitution and any long-term adverse consequences to national interest,” Herricknen reiterated.   

The CPS President highlighted the following:

1. DCA is not necessary for PNG and the Pacific in peacetime.

2. DCA has not catered for social and economic impacts for PNG especially in Manus Province and people of Los Negros Island, Lombrum Naval Base in particular.

3. DCA does not cater for Manus Province Economic Package considerations as per PNG Government’s National Content Policy.

4. DCA will cumulate toward coercing PNG becoming a “Base Nation” contrary to the PNG Constitution and Foreign Policy, and;

5. PNG has to learn from the failed arrangements of Australia’s Off-shore Processing Centre for Refugees on Manus, and the Enhanced Cooperation Program which the Supreme Court struck down as being unconstitutional.

Herricknen reiterated that what matters to the people is the motive behind the DCA, especially since the people have little to no knowledge of what the treaty would mean for the country, stressing that this is no small matter.

“We have a serious case of lack of accountability, consultation, good governance and breach of trust to the people of Papua New Guinea. 

“The government has to be transparent and honest with the people by allowing the arrangements to go through debate, scrutiny and sanctioning of the national Parliament prior to any signing of the DCA with the United States,” he added.

“PNG sovereign jurisdiction and Constitution must not be floundered and undermined, our Constitutional fathers warned us to stand guard against foreign influences, manipulation, domination, and exploitation,” he said.  

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