Us Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement

Article XII contains provisions relating to entry into force, amendment, duration and termination. The ECDA will come into force when diplomatic notes are exchanged. Any annex to the EDCA will be an integral part of the agreement. During his first six months in power, Duterte repeatedly threatened to denounce the agreement, while Lorenzana and the army insisted that it continue. Finally, the military`s arguments carried the day, probably supported by the important security assistance that the United States provided during the siege of the city of Marawi from May to October 2017. In November, in a joint statement with President Donald Trump, Duterte reaffirmed Manila`s commitment to the agreement. But in the first year and a half of the Duterte administration, plans for the agreed sites were significantly delayed and downgraded. On April 17, Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana and U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim participated in a pickaxe for the first official construction project under the Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The project to build a humanitarian aid and aid camp at Cesar Basa Air Base in Pampanga province comes more than four years after the EDCA was coloured by both sides and two years after the Philippine Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality. The ceremony was both an important milestone and a disappointing reminder of the distance to which EDCA did not respond. If the implementation of the agreement continues at this rate, the national interests of both the Philippines and the United States will suffer. Without a fully implemented EDCA, the Philippines is likely to lose its maritime rights in the South China Sea, either through violence or the threat of China, and the United States will be seen as paper tigers unable to protect its allies or defend the freedom of the seas.

Article IV indicates that pre-set equipment could be used to support humanitarian and disaster relief, as well as to improve individual and collective defence capabilities. Article 1, objective and scope, states that EDCA aims to deepen bilateral defence cooperation in order to preserve and develop the individual and collective capabilities of the Philippines and the United States in order to withstand armed attacks, as stated in its MDT. But a few days later, Duterte criticized rumors that the United States was going to “unload weapons” on those three bases and insisted that he would not allow it. The Philippine defence establishment quickly sought to assure the president that no weapons would be discharged, stressing that EDCA focused on humanitarian and disaster relief, while other aspects of the agreement were minimized. Military spokesman Brig. Restituto Padilla insisted that U.S.-built storage facilities be used to provide disaster relief, such as generators, rubber boats, tents and water purifiers. Lorenzana assured the president, “There will be no storage of weapons or anything that can be used for war games,” and Duterte made it a precondition for the continuation of the agreement. The only indication that EDCA sites can still contain more than humanitarian aid and disaster relief camps was Padilla`s concession that the United States would be allowed to build fuel depots that U.S. aircraft would need during disaster relief operations. The EDCA has an initial duration of ten years and will automatically remain in effect after that date.

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