EDCA to help modernize Philippine military – Noy
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - October 28, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - There’s no question about the importance of the country’s Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States especially now that the military is undergoing modernization, President Aquino said on Tuesday.

“Definitely, yes,” Aquino said when asked if the EDCA is still needed despite the legal challenges it has to hurdle.

EDCA’s constitutionality has been questioned before the Supreme Court, which has yet to resolve the case a year after the agreement was signed in the presence of Aquino and US President Barack Obama.

Some senators also say the EDCA should be ratified, it being a treaty and not an executive agreement.

The President said the accord would be helpful not just for military operations but also for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Aquino said EDCA would afford the Philippines the opportunity to test new equipment, technology and systems, “akin to test-driving a car, I think, as opposed to buying a system and trying it out and finding out that it doesn’t work under our conditions.”

“EDCA’s one side benefit would be to introduce us to all of these most modern equipment and get us familiar and have a generational leap in our abilities, and by the time that we are able to purchase those that we deem are necessary for our own defense, we are more than ready to be able to fully utilize the same,” Aquino said at the annual presidential forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.

He cited as example the need for members of the Philippine Air Force to learn how to fly new jets or planes as the most modern fighter aircraft the country has ever had in its inventory was the Vietnam War-era F-5.

“But the bottom line is, the last time they flew was 2005, okay. You lose the ability of the pilots to fly jets. You lose the ability of the maintenance to continue working on jets. You lose the ability of the command and control,” the President said.

“You have advances in communications nowadays. You have so many other devices like the GPS (Global Positioning System), et cetera, that our forces might not be as cognizant with. Even just responding to a disaster at sea, for instance, they are given coordinates… One would hope that we are not relegated to a sextant and a compass,” he added.

Aquino earlier said the EDCA was not directed at any entity but was merely a refinement of a longstanding defense treaty between the Philippines and the US. His explanation came amid concerns that the agreement was being pushed to strengthen the country’s defense against China’s assertiveness in the West Philippine Sea.

The Constitution prohibits foreign bases in the country but allows rotational presence of US forces in the country to foster interoperability and transfer of knowledge and technology, among others.

ACIRC AQUINO EDCA ENHANCED DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENT FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE PRESIDENT AQUINO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SUPREME COURT UNITED STATES
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