‘EDCA will make make PH the biggest US military base in the world’
MANILA, Philippines—The newly signed 10-year security accord between the United States and Philippines will make the country “the biggest US military base in the world,” a militant partylist group said on Wednesday.
“This will make the Philippines the biggest [US] military base in the world. By the stroke of a pen, through the EDCA, the Aquino government cedes all of Philippine sovereignty to the US and make us second class citizens in our own country. This agreement is very unequal and extremely disadvantageous on Filipino interest,” said Bayan Muna Representative Neri Javier Colmenares.
On Tuesday, the government released the full text of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), a product of eight rounds of negotiations that ran for eight months.
The signing of the defense was held on Monday morning, or a few hours before US President Barack Obama arrived in the country for a two-day state visit.
Colmenares said that “under Article III section 1, US forces and their ships and planes may use Philippine facilities for training, maintenance of vessels, prepositioning of military equipment including weapons such as jets and warships, as well as a staging ground deployment of forces. This will make the Philippines a forward base or a launching pad of the US and can attack other countries and may be attacked as well. This is against the spirit of the Constitution and drags us into all the wars of the US.”
The supposed “Agreed Locations” also “opens all locations in the country for US basing use.”
“This essentially makes the whole Philippines a US military base,” Colmenares said.
The Philippines was once the US Navy’s largest base in Asia. The Americans ended its presence of about 90 years in Subic Bay in 1992 after the Philippine Senate rejected the renewal of the US-Philippines Military Bases Agreement.
“The agreement promises to promote the modernization of the AFP yet it is not clear how this can be accomplished if our country is relegated to being a weapons depot and our soldiers become the glorified security guards of US troops and their equipment,” said Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate.
“Isang malaking kasinungaligan din ang sinasabi ng US at Aquino governments in terms of banning nuclear weapons dahil sa text mismo ng EDCA ay nag-a-apply lang ito sa prepositioned military materiel nila at hindi kung ito ay dala ng kanilang mga submarine, eroplano at barkong pandigma na papasok sa ating bansa,” Zarate added.
(A big lie is what the US and the Aquino governments are saying in terms of banning nuclear weapons because in the text of EDCA, it only applies to their prepositioned military materiel and this does not apply if they are brought by their submarines, airplanes and warships that will enter the country).
What is EDCA?
“After eight rounds of negotiations in as many months, it’s very fitting that we’re gathered here today to sign this landmark agreement just hours before our two presidents meet to mark a new stage in our relations and celebrate the American administration’s ‘rebalance’ to Asia,” said US Ambassador Philip Goldberg in his remarks at the signing of EDCA last Monday, highlighting the US “rebalance” policy to Asia.
The defense pact also comes at a time that the Philippines is embroiled in a territorial row with China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The deal is deemed to help the Philippines’ efforts to build a minimum credible defense.
A media primer said that the EDCA is constitutional as it is “at the invitation of the Philippines and with full respect for the Philippine Constitution and Philippine laws.”
The EDCA is not meant to establish a permanent military base in the Philippines, but it will allow access to “agreed locations” agreed upon by both countries.
“Agreed locations” as defined in Article II, are the facilities and areas that are provided by the Government of the Philippines through the AFP and that United States forces, United States contractors, and others as mutually agreed, shall have the right to access and use pursuant to this agreement.
In these locations, the US forces on a rotational basis are allowed to conduct training, transit, support and related activities, refueling of aircraft, bunkering of vessels, temporary maintenance of vehicles, vessels and aircraft; temporary accommodation of personnel, communications, prepositioning of equipment, supplies, and materiel, deploying forces and materiel and such other activities as the Parties may agree.
“The Philippine Designated Authority and its authorized representative shall have access to the entire area of the agreed locations,” Article III, Section 5 said.
The United States will be able “to preposition and store defense equipment, supplies and materiel, including, but not limited to, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief equipment, supplies, and materiel at ‘agreed locations.”
In Article IV, Section 3, it says that the prepositioned materiel of US “shall be for the exclusive use of US forces and full title to all such equipment, supplies and materiel remains with the US.”
The Philippines shall make the agreed locations available to United States forces “without rental or similar costs.” The US forces shall cover necessary operational expenses. Payment for the use of electricity, water and other public utilities will be shared pro rata.
The US will have “operational control” of the agreed locations. It will have to ask permission from the Philippines through the Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board under the Mutual Defense treaty, if it wishes to make construction activities or alterations and improvements in
It was also mentioned in the document that the prepositioned materiel shall not include nuclear weapons.
The Philippines shall retain ownership of and title to agreed locations. The US will retain title to all equipment, materiel, supplies, relocatable structures and other moveable property that have been imported into or acquired within the territory of the Philippines by or on behalf of US forces.
“Permanent buildings constructed by United States forces become the property of the Philippines, once constructed, but shall be used by US forces until no longer required by US forces,” Article V, Section 4 said.
The Philippines may also consult regarding “possible transfer or purchase of equipment determined to be excess, as may be allowed by US laws and regulations.”
In Article XI, the document cites that disputes shall be handled “exclusively through consultations between the two parties”.
The deal runs for an initial term of 10 years, but “shall continue in force automatically unless terminated by either party.” A one year’s notice must be given through diplomatic channels.
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