GMA News Online - Bongbong: Next president should order EDCA's review

23 March 2016

By Elizabeth Marcelo | GMA News Online

GMA-News-OnlineVice Presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. urged the five presidential candidates to order the review of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) whoever among them will win the upcoming elections.

In a press conference at the sidelines of his campaign sortie in Olongapo City on Tuesday, Marcos admitted it would be impossible to rescind the EDCA as of this time especially as the constitutionality of the controversial agreement has already been upheld by the Supreme Court (SC).

Marcos, however, said that a President still have the power to order its review.

“Kailangan balikan iyan pero it is a signed deal already. Ngunit pwede pa naman natin balikan at tingnan nang mabuti ang operational effect nitong EDCA na kasama ng mga Amerikano,” Marcos said.

Signed in April 2014, the EDCA, which falls within the scope of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), will give US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities, the right to construct facilities, and pre-position equipment, aircraft and vessels.

The agreement, however, prohibits the US from establishing permanent bases in the Philippines as it would violate the Philippine Constitution.

Marcos reiterated his earlier position that EDCA is an international treaty, thus it must have passed the scrutiny of the Senate.

“I still maintain my position that the agreement should have been ratified by the Senate but it was not submitted to us so we did not have any means to review it,” Marcos said.

Nonetheless, Marcos said the next president can exhaust diplomatic means in order to push for the revisiting of EDCA so that certain provisions of the agreement can be clarified further.

“Puwede pa nating pag-usapan ito dahil kaibigan naman natin ang mga Amerikano to make sure we get the best possible deal for the Filipinos,” Marcos said.

Marcos said among the provisions of EDCA that needs to be clarified are the forms of security and protection that the US is set to extend to the Philippines.

“While they provide protection and some form of security, hindi masyado maliwanag sa EDCA kung ano ito at iyan ang dapat pag-usapan,” Marcos said.

Marcos also questioned certain provisions in the agreement that disallows access to Filipino personnel in certain areas of the defense facility.

He also cited the need to clarify the kind of equipment that will be used in the exercises and the facilities that will be built by the Americans.

“Bakit may mga areas na hindi allowed ang Philippine personnel? Anong equipment ang dadalhin? Kasi sinasabi ng ating pamahalaan na marami tayong makukuha na bagong equipment. Marami silang itatayong mga bagong building so interesado ang lahat kung ano ang mga facilities na yun at kung anong equipment na dadalhin nila dyan,” Marcos said.

Lastly, the senator said there is also a need to spell out the equipment that the Americans will leave behind as payment for the use of the country’s bases.

“Ano ang iiwan nila? Kasi hindi naman sila nagbabayad. Ano yung mga exchanges of technology, exchanges of different training exercises ng ating military? Hindi pa maliwanag yun,” Marcos said.

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