President Benigno Aquino 3rd and US President Barack Obama are confident that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement will hurdle the constitutional challenges being hurled at it, with both leaders noting that the “effective” implementation of the agreement will support the US “pivot” in the region.
“We are one of the oldest allies of America in the region. There is the longstanding treaty, the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement seeks to make the operationalization of both forces that much more real because we will really have… In the Philippines’ part, we will have access to the most modern technology that will bring us into higher capabilities, and that is why we welcome now with very open arms this agreement pending before our Supreme Court,” Aquino said.
He added that the use of Philippine bases by US troops will lead to “more stability” as the powerful nation will be able “to project its own power within the region in an effort to help in the stability and the orderliness and the diffusion of the tension (in the region).”
Obama meanwhile stressed that while the US is not among the claimants of reefs and islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), they fully support a process that resolves the disputes through international law.
“And we look forward to working with all parties to move disputes through these channels,” he said.
Obama said he understands that the EDCA, as an important tool in achieving their goals, has to go through certain processes.
“But we are confident that it is going to get done and we are going to be able to implement effectively the provisions and the ideas that have come forward during the course of these discussions,” he pointed out.
“The broader point is that, as a treaty ally, we have a rock solid commitment to the defense of the Philippines. And part of our goal is to continue to help our treaty partners build up capacity, to make sure that the architecture of both defense work, but also humanitarian work, and other important activities in the region are coordinated more effectively, and we think that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement is going to help us do that,” he added.
The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision on petitions questioning EDCA after the holding of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Court insiders have earlier told The Manila Times that the tribunal is poised to declare the agreement constitutional, although majority of senators believe that it should be ratified by the Senate.