Bato dangles EDCA termination as bill blocking US security aid to Philippines refiled

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Bato dangles EDCA termination as bill blocking US security aid to Philippines refiled
Philippine Marines with the Joint Rapid Reaction Force conduct an amphibious landing utilizing logistical navy ships to seize a scenario-based objective as part of the Balikatan joint exercises in this 2016 photo.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa threatened Thursday to push for the termination of a key defense agreement between the Philippines and the United States in response to the refiling of a bill in the US House of Representatives that seeks to block security aid to Manila.

Dela Rosa said in a virtual news briefing that he is mulling to file a Senate resolution that would call for the end of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and US which grants Washington’s troops access to Manila’s military bases.

“Sure, cut aid and we will also end EDCA here. Let’s not conduct any exercises anymore. You are just using us so you can raid Taiwan. What kind of relationship is this? One-way?” the senator said in Filipino.

It is not clear what form Dela Rosa’s mulled resolution would be, but he could file a Sense of the Senate resolution which would embody the chamber’s stand on a particular issue although this would still not be legally binding.

While some critics say EDCA is a treaty that the Senate should concur to, the government has always viewed it as an executive agreement which does not need the upper chamber’s consent for it to take effect.

Still, Dela Rosa said the Senate can move on its own should it decide that it wants EDCA terminated.

“We can still question that. That’s not a problem. We are not bound by whatever decision of the executive branch of the government because we are independent of each other. We can do whatever we want,” he said.

US. Rep. Susan Wild (Pennsylvania, 7th District) again filed the Philippine Human Rights Act (PHRA) before the US House earlier this month in commemoration of the second anniversary of the "Bloody Sunday Massacre" where raids across the Calabarzon region in 2021 left nine activists dead. 

The PHRA would suspend Washington’s security assistance to the Philippines until the government fully investigates and prosecutes any military or police personnel engaged in human rights abuses.

Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Nueva Ecija, Palawan and Pampanga are hosts of the existing EDCA sites. Four more sites have been identified which President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said will be “scattered around” the country.

"There are some in the north, there are some around Palawan, there are some further south so these sites are in various, different locations," Marcos said partly in Filipino last week.

EDCA allows American and Philippine troops to train together as well as respond to humanitarian crises. With the additional four, total EDCA sites now stand at nine. 

Agence France-Presse previously reported that negotiations were ongoing for a fifth additional site. — with reports from Kaycee Valmonte




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