Hontiveros welcomes US support in sea row, wary of EDCA and nuclear energy offers

Hontiveros welcomes US support in sea row, wary of EDCA and nuclear energy offers
Sen. Risa Hontiveros nominates Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III as the minority bloc leader during the opening of the first regular session of the Senate of the 19th Congress on July 25, 2022.
The STAR / Mong Pintolo, file

MANILA, Philippines — While US support for the Philippine position on the West Philippine Sea is wlecome, the Philippines should not rush to accept offers to expand coverage of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and for American assistance on nuclear energy, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Monday.

In an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel’s "Headstart" on Monday, Hontiveros said she appreciates support in recognizing the 2016 Hague ruling, which invalidated China’s nine-dash claims over waters that include the West Philippine Sea. She said she also welcomes the prospect of more joint military exercises but is wary at allowing more US access to military sites for the sake of that support.

READ: US VP Harris cites 2016 sea ruling in pitch for international rules-based order

"I don’t want us to get stuck choosing between our former colonial master and one that wants to be the new regional or global colonial master," Hontiveros said.

In her visit to the Philippines last week, US Vice President Kamala Harris announced that additional EDCA locations having been identified, but not named. 

The EDCA allows the US to use Philippine military facilities as training sites and as a base for humanitarian relief efforts.

A senior US administration official said talks with the Department of National Defense are still ongoing.

So far, the US has spent $82 million for the implementation of the 2014 agreement, with 21 projects underway.

READ: US VP Harris brings new programs, loans for Philippines

'Nuclear energy might not be best option'

The US also announced that it will be initiating negotiations on a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which will be the legal basis for exporting nuclear equipment and material to the Philippines.

However, Hontiveros noted that a nuclear energy program might not be the best option for the Philippines since it would mean the country would import materials needed for it, on top of having to worry about the radioactive waste the program would produce.

READ: US, Philippines to launch negotiations on civil nuclear cooperation

"I continue to believe that we have much better, safer, and cheaper renewable energy sources compared to the prospect of opening a nuclear energy program here in the Philippines," Hontiveros said. — Kaycee Valmonte




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