MANILA (Mabuhay) − The signing Monday of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the Philippines highlights the US government’s “rebalance” policy to Asia.
This was stressed by US Ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg, during Monday’s EDCA signing ceremonies at the Armed Forces’ Commissioned Officers’ Club in Camp Aguinaldo, Monday.
“After eight rounds of negotiations in as many months, it’s very fitting that we’re gathered here today to sign this landmark agreement just hours before our two presidents meet to mark a new stage in our relations and celebrate the American administration’s ‘rebalance’ to Asia,” Goldbergsaid.
“As most of the people in this room probably know, the US-Philippines alliance is the oldest of our five treaty alliances in Asia and the US-Philippines mutual defense treaty signed in 1951 continues to serve us well, having contributed to the security and stability of the region for the last six decades,” he added.
Goldberg said that a good example of this is the annual “Balikatan” exercises, which will kick-off on May 5.
“The agreement we signed today would be an important part of the existing Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement but it will also serve to update our security alliance to meet the increasingly complex challenges of the 21st century, whether it is terrorism, transnational crimes or natural disasters like Typhoon ‘Haiyan’ (Yolanda),” he added.
Goldberg said that while the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and US military forces already work closely together, at all levels and across all services, through joint exercises, training, and subject matter expert exchanges, to increase their capabilities and interoperability, the EDCA serves as recognition by both sides that there is even more we can do together to support the alliance and to promote peace and security in the region.
“The Agreement is based on a number of key principles and shared values: The mutuality of benefits for both nations as we develop our individual and collective defense capacities; respect for Philippine sovereignty over all locations covered under the Agreement; and the understanding the United States does not intend to establish a permanent military presence in the Philippines,” he added.
Goldberg said the EDCA will increase training opportunities for US and Philippine forces, which will contribute to increased interoperability and a greater ability to jointly respond to humanitarian operations. (MNS)