Friday, January 15, 2016

President Aquino says EDCA will enhance PH-US relations

President Aquino says EDCA will enhance PH-US relations

The defense pact between the Philippines and the United States would enhance the abilities of both nations and should not be considered a threat to others, President Aquino said on Friday, January 15.

The President made the comment amid reports that China criticized the Supreme Court decision upholding the legality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) that would supposedly escalate tensions in the region.

A local marching band welcomes the arrival of sailors aboard the USS Topeka (SSN-754), a Los Angeles-class submarine, as it prepares to be docked at the Alava pier off Subic port in Zambales province for a three-day port call at northwestern Philippines, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. The Philippines' Supreme Court declared as constitutional on Tuesday the 10-year defense pact, Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, that allows American forces, warships and planes to temporarily base in local military camps in a boost to U.S. efforts to reassert its presence in Asia, where China has loomed large. (AP Photo/Jun Dumaguing) A local marching band welcomes the arrival of sailors aboard the USS Topeka (SSN-754), a Los Angeles-class submarine, as it prepares to be docked at the Alava pier off Subic port in Zambales, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Jun Dumaguing)
“The basic logic behind EDCA is interoperability, and anybody who is reasonable will see that this agreement is an enhancement of both our countries’ abilities, rather than a threat to anyone else,” Aquino said during the East-West Association International Conference held at the Manila Hotel.

“To my mind, EDCA has a very practical purpose for developing our own armed forces,” Aquino added.

With EDCA, Aquino said the military will have a chance to try cutting-edge equipment and train with American soldiers. He said Filipino soldiers can learn from their US counterparts the strengths and shortcomings in using such equipment. “We can even redefine and understand such under our own parameters,” he said.

The US military, on the other hand, gets to learn how to make do with fewer resources which in a conflict situation is always a high probability if not an intense possibility, Aquino said.

“As highly regarded experts in your respective fields, I trust that you will see just how beneficial such a relationship can be for my countrymen and the people of the United States, as well as for our partners,” Aquino said.

“It is, after all, a relationship borne of consensus and a recognition of differences, of shared principles and aspirations, and of a unified vision in building a safer, more productive environment for our peoples,” he added.
A commentary posted on Xinhua News Agency earlier found “peculiar” Manila’s decision to invite US troops despite the stabilizing situation in the South China Sea. It warned that an increased US military presence in Asia Pacific would only escalate tension in the region and push the situation to the brink of war.
“It is easy to deduce that Manila, which has long been involved in a dispute with Beijing over claims on some South China Sea islands, appears to be now turning to Uncle Sam to back its ambition to counter China,” the Xinhua report read.

“The US military intervention in the Asia-Pacific will only escalate tensions in the region, of which the Philippines is an indispensable part. Manila has to bear the negative consequences of its stupid move in the future,” it added.

Early this week, the Supreme Court junked petitions seeking to declare unconstitutional the defense deal between the Philippines and the United States. The high court also ruled that EDCA, which allows greater US access to local military camps, is an executive agreement that does not need the concurrence of the Senate.

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