Senators lukewarm to US aid for PH military infrastructure upgrade
MANILA, Philippines — Some senators are lukewarm to the plan of the United States to spend $70 million for infrastructure improvements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Instead of focusing on enhancing defense cooperation, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said the US and the Philippines should prioritize other matters.
“How about an agricultural agreement [that] will assist [the Philippines] in producing more food from our land?” asked Pimentel in a text message to reporters.
“’Wag puro military na lamang na parang naghahanda tayo sa [Pilipinas] na makipag guerra,” he added.
(Let’s not focus on the military as if we’re preparing for war)
Senator Robin Padilla, meanwhile, warned that this move by the US could send a wrong message to China.
READ: US eyes allocating $70 million for EDCA sites, arms in PH
“Hindi magiging magandang mensahe ito sa Dragon sapagkat magiging palaisipan tayo para sa kanila dahil parang military base na tayo ng mga Agila,” he said in a separate statement.
(This will send an unpleasant message to the dragon as they might think that we are now the military base of the eagle.)
Padilla said he prefers the US military aid to be given in cash instead.
“Kasaysayan naman ang magsasabi rin na kahit noong mga huling taon ng dating Pangulo Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, cash aid ang isinulong niya sa mga Agila hindi military aid,” he pointed out.
(History would tell us that even during the latter years of former President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, he was pushed for cash aid from the eagle, and not military aid.)
The senator said it is also better if the Philippines would stay neutral in dealing with the two feuding superpowers — the United States and China.
“Nasa kamay ng mahal na Pangulong Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos nakasalalay bilang ama ng foreign policy ang ating pagkadamay o pagkaligtas kung sakaling magsalpukan sa Taiwan ang Agila at ang Dragon,” he said.
(Our involvement or survival is in the hands of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, the father of foreign policy, in case the eagle and dragon clash in Taiwan.)
“Let us be a friend and family to all that colonized us so we may start to build our own identity. If not now, when?” Padilla further said.
Signed in 2014, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement allows the US to build facilities and preposition assets in some strategically located military bases in the Philippines.
READ: What is the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and what does it mean for PH?
“These improvements are designed to enhance cooperative defense capacities and support humanitarian assistance disaster response activities in ways that best meet the needs of the AFP and the alliance,” US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson on Wednesday, October 26, said of Washington’s planned assistance to the AFP.
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