The EDCA and Balikatan-A A +A
Monday, May 5, 2014
AFTER the United States of America President Barack Obama's visit in the Philippines came the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or the EDCA.
The Agreement was based from the Philippines and the United States Mutual Defense Treaty, signed in 1951 that provides for the mutual protection of both states in case of attacks from external aggression or any armed attacks.
On the EDCA, it was signed by both states amid territorial dispute between the Philippines and China. The latter is claiming islands and territories that by historic right and title are owned by the Philippines. The tension that grips the country today has slightly escalated with the Chinese maritime vessels “bullying” our fishermen and our own fleet.
Undoubtedly, we are the David and China the Goliath in terms of firepower and the capability of our armed forces. China has already made its aggressive moves in staking it maritime territorial claims.
The EDCA, while some groups are opposed to it, is just timely, now that we need a country’s shoulder to cry on. Those who are expressing rejections over the Agreement denounce it as a mere strategy of the United States to make the country adhere to its dictates.
Some militant groups call it an intrusion to the Philippine sovereignty by Uncle Sam and that the present national government administration is being dictated by the US government.
No matter how they call it, it can never change the fact that the United States is our longest ally in terms of international defense. It’s not that we are turning our backs against our nationalistic principle, but many are of the impression that we need someone who can protect our country from any further aggression presently perpetrated by our neighbor country China.
Despite diplomatic protests filed before international tribunals and organizations, China seemed not to be affected by our peaceful means of trying to stop the intrusion of Chinese maritime vessels into our territories.
It's evident that China is unfazed by our actions that it continuously "patrols" fluvial areas which evidently forms part our national territory.
There were a number of instances when standoffs were experienced either by our own guardian of the seas in their antiquated ships or by native fishermen who were shooed away from our own area.
Yesterday was the start of the Balikatan military exercises. The Balikatan is a joint military training program between the United States Armed Forces and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The Balikatan is enshrined in the EDCA. The agreement likewise allows US military presence in our military camps. They are granted immunity as provided for in the agreement.
With the incapability of our country’s armed forces to fight it out with that of the Chinese’s, many see the need our stronger military ties with the United States. We have to admit that we need an ally that can provide us strong military support, even if we will be the ones on the frontline and they are merely on the support side.
Around 3,000 Filipino soldiers and 2,500 American troops are expected to join the bilateral military exercises in various camps nationwide. This year’s Balikatan is focused on maritime security and disaster response. Perhaps because of the stand-off that we face with China on the disputed Spratly’s and other Philippine maritime territories claimed.
We hope that the EDCA and the Balikatan will solve international conflicts that we are now facing and not cause internal conflicts with those against it on the other hand.
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Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on May 06, 2014.