MANILA - Vice President Jejomar Binay gave his full support to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), saying it will also help the country achieve its goal of improving the lives of Filipino people.
“Through the EDCA, we have effectively upgraded our own security platform, without shifting a significant portion of our limited resources to support an arms race and procure weapons systems that exceed our normal defense requirements,” he said before the delegates of the Banyan Tree Leadership Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C.
He said the stronger US military presence in the Philippines will soothe and calm the investment climate.
Thus, “it enables us to focus better on developing a solid economic base to combat poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and disease,” he said.
EDCA, signed last week ahead of the state visit of US President Barack Obama, allows American soldiers to greater access military bases.
It is seen as an important pillar of the country’s regional security policy as well as an effective response mechanism to humanitarian and natural disasters.
“A stronger American military presence in the Philippines and greater interoperability between our respective armed forces dramatically increases our individual and collective defense capabilities, providing a dramatic deterrent against external aggression,” Binay said.
EDCA also comes at a time when the Philippines needs stronger alliances amid stronger moves from China in disputed areas.
Binay believes, however, that the EDCA does not pave the way for a shift in Manila’s core strategy for regional security.
“We have always believed and will continue to hold ourselves to the principle that the future of mankind lies not in conflict nor war, but in dialogue, cooperation, development and peace,” he stressed.
He said he will always be for a peaceful solution to the disputes in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
“Let me stress, nonetheless, that our support for EDCA does not reflect a freezing of ties with China. Nor do we view the disputes in the South China Sea as the totality of our bilateral relations with China,” he said.
“In the end, trade, as well as the deep filial ties that bind our peoples will prevail over the issues of territory and boundaries that are currently threatening our relationship,” he added.