MANILA, Philippines—Since it allows the United States to preposition troops and materiel in the country for free, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) is a case of “negotiated subservience,” a University of the Philippines professor and public policy think tank official said on Monday.
Professor Roland Simbulan, also vice chair of the Center for People’s Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), told the Senate Edca allowed for the entry of American troops, facilities and war materiel anywhere in the Philippines at no cost to the United States.
CenPEG is a public policy research and advocacy think-tank that seeks to empower the poor in a democratic manner.
It is also thus not far-fetched that the Philippines would be dragged into the international conflicts and “wars of intervention” of the US, Simbulan said.
The Edca would also boost American “intervention” in the Philippines given the presence of its troops throughout the year, he added.
“Edca, like other previous agreements, is patently one-sided or onerous and is a clear-cut case of negotiated subservience,” said Simbulan in a paper he submitted to the Senate foreign relations committee.
“So why do we agree to them and accept and inflict upon ourselves this kind of negotiated subservience?” he said.
The committee, chaired by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, on Monday conducted a hearing to determine whether or not the Senate should insist on its right to ratify the Edca. The agreement was made between the US and Philippine governments without Senate concurrence contrary to the Constitution.
Members of the academe, a former senator and progressive party-list groups have urged the Senate to assert its right to review the agreement.
Acting Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, arguing for the government, said the administration had secured a “license” through the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), both with the United States, to enter into the Edca.
Santiago said she would craft a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the pact must have its concurrence.
The Edca was signed by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg just before President Obama visited Manila last April. Such important agreements are normally signed by the heads of state.
Individual petitioners have run to the Supreme Court seeking to have the Edca declared unconstitutional for violating the provisions barring nuclear weapons and the establishment of foreign military bases in the country without Senate approval.
Simbulan, who teaches development studies and public management at UP, said Edca risked reviving the Cold War in the Asia-Pacific with the “pivot” of the US military to the region.—TJ Burgonio
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