The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement set to be inked between the Philippines and the United States (US) does not seek to provoke China over the lingering dispute on overlapping claims in West Philippine Sea islands, the Palace said on Saturday.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte made the pronouncement a day after the negotiating panels of the Philippines and the US approved a draft of the pact after eight rounds of talks.
The agreement will increase the rotational presence of American troops in the country and will grant US troops access to Philippine military bases.
“It is clear to everyone that the Philippines has always taken a position of non-provocation and we’ve always subscribed to having a peaceful resolution to this dispute. You can see this in our actions in the past where we have been deliberately avoiding situations that can increase the tension in the West Philippine Sea,” Valte said in an interview with Radyo ng Bayan.
The Philippines has already filed a memorial against China before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas to settle the maritime row between the two countries but China refused to participate in the process.
The defense pact between Manila and Washington may be signed when US President Barack Obama visits the Philippines on April 28 to 29.
The date of the signing of the enhanced defense pact between the Philippines and the United States, however, is yet to be determined. Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino said the agreement’s draft provisions and key points are still under consultation.