Picture: REUTERS
South China Sea. Picture: REUTERS

MANILA — The Supreme Court of the Philippines on Tuesday declared a security deal with the US to be constitutional, allowing an increased c presence in its former colony as tensions rise in the South China Sea.

Manila has long been a staunch US ally and the pact is widely seen as important for both, as the Philippines confronts an assertive China in the disputed Spratly archipelago and Washington launches a "pivot" back to Asia.

Voting 10-4, the 15-member court denied the petition of some legislators and activists to declare the Enhanced Defence Co-operation Agreement unconstitutional because it surrendered Philippine sovereignty to a foreign power.