• Will Duterte scrap EDCA, or use it as a bargaining chip?

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    RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

    RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

    Of course, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. would say, as he did in a TV interview, that President Duterte “will respect all treaty agreements with any nation, including EDCA.”

    EDCA is the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed by President Aquino through his defense secretary with the US in April 2014, and upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court, just this January. The Court also upheld Aquino’s position that it didn’t require the approval of the Senate. This is in contrast to the similar EDCAs made by such US subservient, tiny nations as Bulgaria and Romania, which were ratified by their legislatures. Romania’s equivalent of EDCA was approved by its bicameral parliament only after a year and a half.

    What Yasay hadn’t told his interviewer about was a provision in the Philippine EDCA’s last paragraph (Article XII, paragraph 4) that the agreement can be “terminated by either Party by giving one year’s notice through diplomatic channels of its intention to terminate” it.

    The agreement hasn’t really been implemented yet, since it was only in January that the Supreme Court gave it the go-signal. The gist of the EDCA – the establishment of “agreed locations” (the euphemism for “forward” temporary military bases), which the US could use for stockpiling its war materiel in the country – requires a tedious process that has only barely started.

    Duterte can announce tomorrow that he wants the EDCA terminated, and of course, all the work on establishing the forward bases would cease, as these would be useless.

    The US was too arrogant (or wanted Aquino to demonstrate his loyalty) to think of requiring Aquino to get the Senate’s approval for it. In fact, the Philippines signed the pact with the US just hours before President Obama’s Air Force One landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport for his state visit in April 2014. Aquino even fired the chief negotiator, the DFA official in charge of American affairs Carlos Soretta, who apparently raised too many questions over the pact, to meet Obama’s deadline.

    This created suspicions that the US made its signing the condition for Obama’s visit to the country.

    The US’ arrogance and Aquino’s subservience may be their undoing: Duterte can just decide one day that he wants to terminate it, and he doesn’t need the Senate’s concurrence.

    US soldier teaching ours during a joint military exercises: Time to learn from others?

    US soldier teaching ours during a joint military exercises: Time to learn from others?

    Terminating the EDCA would be a logical step in pursuit of Duterte’s earth-shaking announcements that he WILL not BE a US lapdog, and that he would pursue an independent foreign policy. This is a historic break from the past, in sharp contrast to the pro-American, US-is-the-only-superpower-in-the-world stance of all previous Presidents, except for President Arroyo, who in effect, declared she wanted to treat the US and China on the same level.

    How can the Philippines be independent, or even just appear to be so, when the existence of EDCA allows the establishment of de facto US bases — a “lite” version, as these would serve as warehouses for US military materiel — all over the country. No other Asean nation, in fact, has similar EDCAs with the US, nor does any of them have any form of US military basing.

    Do you think China won’t interpret as our being a puppet if the US decides to have its forward bases under the EDCA in Palawan fronting the Spratly islands?

    Will US assistance, especially for our anti-terrorism needs, decline if Duterte terminates the EDCA? I don’t think so.

    The US State Department’s request to its Congress for assistance to the Philippines for last year — when the EDCA was signed — totaled $203 million, which wasn’t really a jump from the actual $189 million assistance in 2014. In fact, compared with 2014, US foreign military financing, a component of US assistance, decreased from $50 million in 2014 to $40 million in 2015. Aid for direct anti-terrorism efforts dropped from $9.1 million to $6.1 million. The Americans obviously didn’t reward Aquino with more military aid for the EDCA he gave them.

    More significantly, Indonesia doesn’t have an EDCA with the US, yet the state department’s request for US AID for it for last year was $176 million, not really too far from our $203 million in 2014.

    This means that if Duterte decides not to end EDCA, at least he should obtain increased military aid from the Americans, and use EDCA as a bargaining chip. After all, we haven’t been at all rewarded for being the proxy for the Americans in the South China Sea dispute by filing the case against China for its expansionism.

    The US military has been ecstatic over that decision since, one way or another — as the ruling is made by an international body, never mind that it was an “arbitral court,” which means that the two contending parties agree to be put under it — it could claim it was merely defending the international rule of law if it ever actually intervened in the territorial conflicts in that area, which is across the globe from it.

    And if the argument is raised that we need US advisers badly to fight the jihadist terrorists, we may ask: Why did our 44 Special Action Force troops get massacred in an operation which, by different accounts, had been carried out with support from American forces, and for which they also provided state-of-the-art equipment?

    I suspect on that whole fateful day in which President Aquino was informed of the SAF’s entrapment by Moro insurgents, he was thinking the Americans would save the day. They didn’t, although they were the first to evacuate the wounded and dead.

    It is time to really forge our own independent foreign policy. We have been subservient to the US for a century, and what kind of a country have we become? A country that fought the Americans, Vietnam, is now even poised to overtake us.

    tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com

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    21 Comments

    1. Du30 is lucky he has a good card i suggest do it why america is in election. If goes to usa i suggest get atleast 30 pcs of f35 americA’s new stealth plane also get some 30 pcs of latest tanks and lasly get thaad 2 pcs plus 10 patriot missle system. I think this will be a good deal if not do not even think going to usa if this minium conditions. I am saying what is what they give to other allied country.

      If he goes china route i suggest go for profit at max rate china can pay atleast 50:50 on oil. Then get a billion dollar or trillion dollar economic package. Which they give to their allies.
      If security is concerned just by russian arms which is cheap and better than american counteparts. We can also buy cheap oil product to russia with this route. With luck we can be a oil dealer of russian oil here in asean.

      In this i think i will go to china route which benefit all with more work for locals. Weapons are dead investment for our country if its to expensive.we can be in the same level iof a 1st world few years later. I am guessing roughly 5-10 years rather than america route where we only get debts and possible war which will kill millions of filipino.

      End of analysis.

    2. Don, that is why we have a president that is willing to change!
      Would you rather stick to the same over and over government policy that does not actually help us move and complete with other countries?
      Fight the drug menace and criminality and corruptions in the government, and we will be bound for prosperity.
      Prosperity not only for the big oligarchs but for the whole country.

    3. I agree with Bobi Tiglao on this! But Pres Du30 should watch his back and learn from history e.g., Pres FM and Estrada’s ordeal with the Americans when they started to shy away from them!

    4. the time to shift our site from west to east is long overdue. those who do so are far reaching their goal than ph. independent foreign policy is the way to go. the strings attaching us to the west have brought us down to our knees for so long. for years we are just watching the bulk of foreign direct investment coming fromt the west to china, vietnam, malaysia, thailand, etc, bypassing ph. none of these countries are having the same “special friendship” than ph. econimically ph won’t survive if not for the 10M+ pinoys working all over the world. US sponsored cory and her constitution deprived us to grow. the same true when US opposed macoy’s plan to industrialize ph. a strong independent ph, militarily and econimically, in US point of view, would compromise their (US) geopolitical interest in this region. so much so that ph would remain poor and subervient to its master. it’s always been master to servant relationship between US and PH….pagpag lang ang natatanggap natin mula sa kanila!

    5. I honestly don’t agree with you Mr. Tiglao on your contention on what country we become with an American military presence in our land, as I don’t also agree with Mr. President DU30 on his plan about the crafting of his own foreign policy for the Philippine being a sovereign nation. What kind of foreign policy are you Mr. Tiglao in favor of? Is that the one that Mr. President DU30 allowing the Chinese coastguard in the Philippine Sea? Is that the one that Mr. President DU30 is so quite of by the China ongoing construction of the artificial Islands in the West Philippine Sea? Is that the one that Mr. Perfecto Yasay, who stood quietly as sweet as the lamb ready to be slaughtered in ministerial meeting of foreign secretaries of the ASEAN, had decidedly shut-up his mouth to talk about the ruling of the UNCLOS in the West Philippine Sea to please and gratify the Chinese leaders closely-mostly-likely the way the Chinese ordinary people in their history would gratify their emperor with 48 kinds of dishes prepared in the table every meal? Is that the one Mr. Tiglao and Mr. President DU30 would you want to happen to our people in entire Philippine and the Philippines itself to be subservient to Chinese leaders? Are we not becoming a puppet too of China by that? Come on, wake up! We know Chinese people are ruled by money; their minds and hearts rules are sets on money. We know that Chinese people are always ready to gamble even to pay a high price when there is good money involved. Do you think Chinese Leaders will listen to you Mr. Tiglao and Mr. President DU30? By history in China, the Chinese leaders never listened to the plea of their own people, more so to foreigners. There is only one option left in our foreign policy, namely to engage with USA and ASEAN, Japan and Australia, European countries and other countries with good will, to help us take China out in the West Philippine Sea.

      • if you have a problem with an enemy engage him in a bilaterel fair and balance settlement with no preconditions. multilateral negotiation always carry precondition and harder to achieve a noble outcome.

      • but we have been doing that- “engaged with USA and SEAN, Japan and Australia, European and other countries”- and look where are we now? time to change and “change is coming.”…

    6. Yes, Pres Duterte is right in pursuing an independent foreign policy. EDCA is a danger to the country especially then that this SOB Americans can not neutralize the nuclear activity of North Korea. What if war suddenly erupts between the U S and North Korea? And in that event they have a forward base here? North Korea’s submarine has already the capability to fire missiles while submerged and it will only be a matter of time that they will have the capability to arm this missiles with a nuclear warhead. What if if one of their targets will be the U S forward base stationed in the country and the country has no adequate missile defense shield that can intercept and destroy these nuclear missiles?

    7. I think Pres.Duterte is imitating or following the footsteps of PM Mahathir of Malaysia. Having the best of both worlds (West& China). We cannot just put all our eggs in 1 basket.
      Let China gave us Infrastructure and Let USA gave us F16’s just liek they did withIndonesia and others and Oliver Hazard Perry frigates not 60 yrs old cutters!

    8. Americans are not to blame, they will always look after their own interests, that is a given. The entire universe knows that, Who should we blame then but our own politicians in partnership with predatory businessmen who also look after their own interests. I believe this is what Pres. Duterte should go after first if he wants real change. Look what happened after Cory, did change occur? No, because the system remained the same, This nation is condemned like Sisyphus.

    9. Kick the useless American. Since 1898 America use us like their personal toilet paper. They are only here to serve their interest.

    10. Silverio Cabellon Jr on

      It was the Philippines national interest to request a ruling from the Arbitral Court on its maritime rights to 200 nautical miles according to UNCLOS. Martime rights means the ability to fish and explore the area for possible gas and oil deposits. It was an initiative of the Philippines and not the United States.

      Military alliances are for the benefit of both countries with one not being subservient to the other. The United States interest is served by having a forward position to assure its interest that Freedom of Navigation prevails so that its commerce is unimpeded. The economic life of the United States is preserved. The Philippine interest is served in that its military capabilities are enhanced which the deters other countries from imposing their will on the Philippines.

      • “It was an initiative of the Philippines and not the United States. ”

        bobo..hindi gawin ng pinas yun kung walang utos sa US TANGA…

      • Philippines national interest is best served by not being caught between two huge elephants.

        When the elephants fight the grasses get trampled,when they make love the grasses get trampled too.

    11. I believe you have hit on what DU30 is going to do. EDCA and the US presence in the PH will be removed so that an agreement can be struck with China over territorial claims. That is a good move.

    12. Taiwan, South Korea, and maybe Japan (if you forgave them for WWII atrocities they committed in RP) have aircrafts and naval ships that are enough for the defence demands of the Republic of the Philippines.

      The USA have tons and tons of surplus fighter planes and naval ships but they are not going to give the Republic of the Philippines a well armed air force and navy force. USA calls Philippines its ally. Here are the links to the USA plane boneyards and ships graveyards. . . . . http://www.airplaneboneyards.com/airplane-boneyards-list… . . . . . . https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Ed-jpZMpK7o/maxresdefault.jpg

      If RP was not attacked after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese could have attacked mainland USA during WWII. That was the doctrine of “extra territorial or foreward base defence” played by RP for the USA, which sacrificed millions of Filipinos.

      Canadian Circle for Asian Issues

      • why ask every country to donate you a airforce and navy when the PH ecomony is booming, best in asia i always read ?

    13. I hope President Duterte will reject the new planes given to us by the Americans recently. I hope he will not say one day he does not want any of the call centers here serving the Americans or about a million jobs will be lost sooner than he can shut off his mouth.

    14. We can only blame ourselves for our current economic and political situation. The current administration is no different. Du30 is doing the extreme – kill anyone who gets in the way in his war on drugs.
      After all this killing I hope the Philippines will a better place for the poor and the unemployed.
      What about employment? Are Filipinos getting a descent job to support their families?