Makabayan urges Duterte: Walk the talk on Edca
The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives urged President Rodrigo Duterte to walk the talk after his latest statement to continue the joint military exercises with the United States and retain the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).
In a press briefing on Thursday, Kabataan Rep. Sarah Jane Elago said the president should remain consistent with his vow to craft an independent foreign policy and end military exercises with the American troops.
“Ang hamon sa kaniya is really walk the talk, at hindi mag-alinlangan na balangkasin ang ating depensa at pambansang soberaniya sa territorial na integridad batay sa pagtataguyod ng patakarang pambansa,” Elago said.
(The challenge for him is to really walk the talk and to build the basis of our national defense and sovereignty in territorial integrity based on the implementation of our national policy.)
Act Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said he was not pleased that American troops would still remain in the country because the president only downgraded military exercises with the US.
“Natural hindi tayo masaya rito. Para sa atin, hindi ito sapat, magiging totoo, magiging ganap ang independent foreign policy as far as we are concerned, hindi natin makakamit ang genuine sovereignty… kung mananatili at palalakihin ang presensiya ng US dito sa Pilipinas,” Tinio said.
(Obviously, we are not happy about this. For us, this isn’t enough; an independent foreign policy would only materialize, as far as we are concerned, we won’t achieve genuine sovereignty …if US presence in the Philippines remains and broadens.)
A Mindanao solon Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said although the Balikatan exercises would remain, it was still a step forward toward an independent foreign policy after the President trimmed down the military exercises by removing two – Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) and the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT).
“Siguro they are calibrating yung outright na tanggalin lahat. Dahan dahan, may pag-abante naman dito, may pag-alis ng naval exercises, may iniwan na kaunti siguro to save face,” Zarate said.
(Perhaps they are calibrating whether they should remove everything outright. Slowly, there is development here, naval exercises are already removed, some are left perhaps to save face.)
Nonetheless, the Makabayan would still remain vigilant in calling out the president to fulfill his promise of cutting military and economic ties with the US, Zarate said.
“Hindi tayo satisified na may pag-downscale, pag-downgrade lang. Kailangang tanggalin ang ganitong mga activities at paalisin na ang tropang Amerikano,” Zarate said.
(We are not satisfied with mere downscaling, or just downgrading. These activities must be eliminated and the American troops must leave.)
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said Duterte had given the go-signal to retain the Edca, a defense agreement between the Philippines and US that sought to increase rotational presence of American troops in the country.
The Balikatan exercises would also be retained but would focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster response, counterterrorism and anti-narcotics exercises.
Meanwhile, Arsenio Andolong of the Department of National Defense Public Affairs Service said that the joint drills between the Philippines and US would be reduced from 13 to around six or seven.
This latest development was a complete turn-around of Duterte’s earlier vow to pull out American troops from Mindanao, and cut military ties with the US. CDG
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