Duterte to continue EDCA

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte to continue EDCA
EDCA was questioned before the court by groups who believe that it would violate Philippine sovereignty. But the high court upheld its legality.
Ernie Penaredondo
DAVAO CITY — Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte is in favor of continuing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States due to the limited capabilities of Manila’s security forces.
EDCA, which was signed by the two countries on April 28, 2014, permits American forces to preposition temporary facilities in Philippine military installations. The deal was questioned before the court by groups who believe that it would violate Philippine sovereignty.
The legality of the bilateral agreement was upheld by the Supreme Court last January. The high court ruled that EDCA is a valid executive agreement that the president can enter into under the Constitution.
Some lawmakers, however, believe that Duterte can easily scrap EDCA because it is just an executive agreement, not a treaty approved by the Senate.
There are no indications, however, that the next Philippine leader would do away with the deal.
“I have no problem with EDCA-sanctioned use of Philippine military bases by US troops because we don't have good external defense capabilities,” Duterte said in a press briefing Monday night here.
The signing of EDCA has been viewed as an effort to counter China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea, where about $5-trillion worth of trade passes through yearly.
China has been occupying disputed South China Sea areas to assert what it claimed are territorial rights based on history. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the resource-rich area.
The US has repeatedly said that it won’t side with any party of the dispute even as it cited the need to settle the issue through peaceful means that are consistent with international law. US officials, however, have repeatedly scored China’s military-build up and expansion in the region.
China has built what are believed to be military structures in Panganiban (Mischief), Zamora (Subi), Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Kennan (Chigua), Mabini (Johnson South), Burgos (Gaven) and Calderon (Cuarteron) Reefs, areas that are also being claimed by the Philippines.  
Unable to drive away Chinese ships in its territory due to its weak military, the Philippines filed a complaint against what it described as China’s “exaggerated” and “excessive” territorial claims in 2013.



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