DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A party-list lawmaker urged President Rodrigo Duterte to take a concrete step to show his independent foreign policy by rescinding the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
“What the President can do as a preliminary step is to formally move for the review and eventual junking of EDCA,” Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago said Monday.
Elago said since the Supreme Court has ruled that EDCA is an executive agreement, it is within Duterte’s powers to formally request for its termination.
“Such move can concretize the President’s pronouncement on breaking military ties with the U.S.,” she said.
Elago described EDCA as “one of the lopsided deals past administrations have brokered with Washington.”
“We believe the President will very much welcome a re-examination of the need for the Philippines to essentially offer Philippine military bases for American use, which is a brazen act of US subservience,” she said.
EDCA was signed in April 2014 under the Aquino administration. The agreement allows U.S troops to rent-free access of bases, camps, facilities, roads, ports and unspecified “agreed locations” in the Philippines.
During his speech upon his arrival at the Davao International Airport on Saturday midnight, Duterte clarified his pronouncements that he would separate from the US.
Duterte said what he meant was a separation of foreign policy and not a severance of diplomatic ties.
He said his statements may affect other agreements, but Duterte also said that he would consult the military, police and everybody else.
“Because at the end of the day, it’s all about security,” he said.
Former US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg in an interview said agreements between the U.S. and the Philippines are “mutually beneficial.”
He said the Philippines benefit with the modernization and professionalization of its troops during the military exercises, adding the U.S.’ network of allies in the region, including Japan and Australia also work out to help the Philippines.
But for Elago, the agreement only “perpetuates subservience to the U.S..”
“Through ensuring increased US military presence, even inside our own military camps. In exchange of allowing our nation to be used as a command post for US domination in the Asia-Pacific, we receive petty hand-me-down equipment and nothing more,” she said.
Elago said the termination of EDCA can trigger a “domino effect” that will help pave the way for the abrogation of other lopsided agreements with the U.S., including the Visiting Forces Agreement and the over six-decade-old Mutual Defense Treaty.
“This is the moment for the Executive department to finally act with a firm sense of nationalism, to rise to the moment and decided to finally break the shackles of US subservience, not just through strong words, but through deeds,” she said. (davaotoday.com)