PH to honor defense cooperation accord with the US
LIMA, PERU—The Philippines will continue to honor its Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) with the United States.
In a meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders meeting here, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said he had communicated to US Secretary of State John Kerry the assurance of President Duterte that the Philippines would continue its defense cooperation with the United States.
“The President has assured America we will continue to respect our treaty agreement and the supporting agreements with respect to the Mutual Defense Treaty. We will continue with Edca,” Yasay told Filipino journalists after the Kerry meeting.
The country’s top diplomat met with his US counterpart, along with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
In October, Mr. Duterte threatened to stop the implementation of Edca, saying it was under government review. The President also reminded the US government that Edca was just an executive agreement.
Signed in April 2014, Edca allows US troops access to military bases and camps in “agreed locations” in the Philippines.
But Yasay clarified that Mr. Duterte “never said anything about discontinuing Edca.”
“In fact, during his inaugural speech, he said he would continue to respect our Mutual Defense Treaty and other supporting documents, including Edca,” the official said.
What Mr. Duterte had stressed, however, that the cooperation with the US would no longer be focusing on the area of “joint military exercises that would be demonstrative of preparing ourselves for any eventual attack from aggressors particularly China,” Yasay said.
As its relationship with China has improved for the better in spite of the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, it may be time to do away with this “bias or mindset insofar as our military alliance with the US is concerned,” he said.
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