DND, AFP: Edca to increase capabilities of PH forces
The Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday welcomed the ruling of the Supreme Court declaring the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) as constitutional.
“With this development that builds upon our mutual defense treaty, we look forward to advancing our defense modernization and strengthening Maritime Security and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief capabilities,” Defense spokesperson Dr. Peter Paul Galvez said in a statement on Tuesday.
He said this puts the Philippines “in a better position to improve our interoperability with the US and increase our Armed Forces’ capacities.”
The executive agreement was signed in 2014, in time for US President Barack Obama’s state visit to the Philippines, with an initial term of 10 years. This will allow increased rotational presence in Philippine military bases, as well as store logistics here.
In 2014, then Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said some of the bases considered to be offered to the US include Oyster Bay in Palawan, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Eija, and Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales.
The AFP also echoed the DND’s sentiments, as Edca will promote modernization of the Philippine military and will boost maritime security, among other things.
“As part of our shared goals with the US under this agreement, we look forward to further enhancing interoperability, addressing short-term capability gaps, promoting long term modernization of our forces, helping maintain maritime security and maritime domain awareness, and developing [humanitarian assistance and disaster response] capabilities,” said AFP chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri in a statement.
The signing comes amid increasing maritime tensions between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea and as the US is working on its pivot to Asia.
“These will redound to improving our capacity to perform our mandate to protect our people and secure the state,” Iriberri said.
Militant groups slammed the ruling, saying that Edca is not the solution to the problem of China’s incursions and is a violation of Philippine sovereignty.
The SC ruling also comes on the same day as the US and Philippines are set to hold a meeting in Washington to tackle bilateral relations including the South China Sea and Edca.
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