Enhanced defense cooperation does need the ratification of the Senate – Trillanes

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Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Monday defended the newly-signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States, saying it does not need the ratification of the Philippine Senate.

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”I believe the EDCA does not need the ratification of the Senate,” Trillanes said in a text message to Senate media.

Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg signed the EDCA at the Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City three hours before US President Barack Obama arrived for a two-day visit in the Philippines.

Goldberg pointed out that the 10-year pact will not reopen US bases in the Philippines but “it’s an agreement to enhance our defense relationship.”

The US ambassador also said the EDCA will also take Philippines-US bilateral security relationships to a higher level.

Trillanes clarified that the Senate committee on national defense and security which he chairs, has been thoroughly briefed at every step of the negotiations for the EDCA.

”We have to understand that while the agreement per se would be made public, the negotiations cannot be discussed publicly since we are dealing with security matters,” Trillanes, a former Philippine Navy officer, said.

The senator explained that the EDCA is “but an implementing guideline” of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

”There are no new concepts introduced to make it an entirely different treaty. Having said this, anybody can raise this issue to the Supreme Court for their disposition,” Trillanes said.

Sen. Grace Poe also supported the signing of the EDCA, saying the 10-year pact is under the VFA which was ratified by the Senate in 1999.

”For as long as it does not contradict the basic provisions of the original agreement then perhaps it will no longer need further ratification by the Senate,” Poe said in separate text message.

”I understand this is a supplemental providing details to implement the VFA. I feel that we need it at this time that we are asserting our sovereignty and guarding our territory. I just hope that our AFP will take this opportunity to modernize truly our armed forces and harness security and defense system with this agreement,” Poe added.

Poe suggested that the agreement be fully published for scrutiny and transparency. PNA

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