De Lima hails Edca ruling: Agreement a ‘much-needed boost’ to AFP
Former Justice secretary and senatorial aspirant Leila de Lima hailed Wednesday the decision of the Supreme Court upholding the legality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).
“The Supreme Court correctly ruled that the Edca is just an implementing executive agreement of the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty, and therefore is not a separate treaty that needs the ratification of the Senate to become effective and binding between the two Pacific allies,” De Lima said in a statement.
De Lima was a former member of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) Commission when she was still a justice secretary.
She said the Edca was “a much-needed boost” in modernizing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), as the United States and the Philippines face common security and defense challenges in the Pacific, including the disputes over the West Philippine Sea.
“The Edca is a much needed boost to the existing VFA in modernizing our armed forces’ capabilities and equipment, as the AFP is further exposed to training and orientation on state-of-the-art weapon technologies and systems that the United States Armed Forces is expected to bring in under the terms of the expanded arrangements for hosting US forces in Philippine-controlled military bases”, she said.
The senatorial aspirant said the Edca would facilitate US assistance during disaster response, relief and rescue operations.
“In terms of security, defense, and disaster-response assistance, the plus points of Edca far outweigh any negative impact as projected by those who oppose it,” she said.
“In any case, there are sufficient safeguards against such incidents that may occur as feared by certain groups,” she added.
While there is no “fool-proof guarantee” that the new arrangement will not result in any unwanted incidents, De Lima said “such possibilities should not prevent us from engaging in improved military alliances with the US in the interest of our own national security.”
With the effectivity of Edca, she said the government should now “prioritize its AFP modernization programs as the only real guarantee against foreign threats on our national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
She said that the real objective of the alliance agreements was “to finally wean us from dependence on foreign military presence with a truly modernized AFP capable of defending our country on its own.”
“Time will come that although alliances will remain, the AFP should have achieved that level of modernization and systems capability that would no longer necessitate the presence of foreign military forces on Philippine soil,” she added.
“That, after all, is our real objective: a more than credible defense posture capable of securing our air, our waters, and land territory on our own, with minimal presence of the US as a military ally, if any at all would still be needed when that time comes”, she added. CDG
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