Edca not contract of lease, says PH official
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine officials on Thursday defended the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement’s (Edca) provision allowing rent-free use of local military facilities by the United States forces.
“This is not a contract of lease wherein rent is required,” Ambassador Eduardo Malaya, member of the Philippine negotiating panel, said in a Palace briefing.
“The reason why there are no compensation provisions on Edca is the fact that this is supposed to be, envisioned to be a mutually beneficial agreement. Now we have to make a distinction between a defense agreement, which by nature is a government to government agreement, and a contract of lease,” he explained.
Malaya, who is the Philippine ambassador to Malaysia, pointed out that countries like Japan and Korea even provide subsidies for the stay of US forces in their territories.
“In fact, in Japan and in Korea, which host a large number of US military bases within their military, these countries provide subsidies for the maintenance and operation of the US military there,” he said, adding that Japan provided $3.7 billion in subsidies in 2011 while South Korea this year allotted $749.6 million.
Meanwhile, Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, head of the Philippine panel, said the exemption of US forces from taxes, landing and port charges is “in recognition of the rule that a sovereign power does not have jurisdiction over another sovereign.”
“On the issue of taxes and utilities, I would like to add that these are counterpart funds on the part of the Philippines,” Malaya added.
Signed hours before US President Barack Obama’s state visit last April 28, the Edca allows US forces to use facilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines without rental or similar costs.
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