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9:24 pm on 21 November 2022, Monday
By Patricia Francia Lachica
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said during the courtesy call with United States of America Vice President Kamala Harris that he does not see "a future for the Philippines that does not include the United States."
"Your visit is a very strong symbol that these relationships remain strong, that these relationships remain important as indeed they do. The Filipino, I have said, many times, I do not see a future for the Philippines that does not include the United States," said Marcos.
Harris, who paid a courtesy call in Malacañang, described the Philippines-United States relationship as a "long and enduring one."
"The relationship between the Philippines and the United States is a long and enduring one. It is one relationship that is strong for so many reasons. It is the longstanding relationship in terms of the people-to-people ties, as you and I have discussed," said US VP Harris.
"The basis of our relationship is multifaceted. Our relationship is based on commitment to the economic prosperity of the region and our respective nations," she added.
The US VP then lauded the "thriving" Filipino community in the US in her meeting with President Marcos as she emphasized that there were at least "Four million Filipino-Americans" in America.
Marcos, for his part, said with the "upheavals that we are seeing," the partnership between the Philippines and its longstanding ally "becomes even more important."
"The situation is rapidly changing. We must evolve to be properly responsive to that situation, so that is why it is very important that we continue to progress, that we continue to strengthen as we redefine those relationships," added Marcos.
Group, lawmaker reject EDCA
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) recently rejected the visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris to the Philippines as the group claimed that her visit was to strengthen the hold of America to the Asia-Pacific region in times of their competition with China.
“Una sa agenda ni Harris ay ang mga security arrangements nila sa ilalim ng Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), pagbisita sa Palawan para magpakita umano ng suporta sa claim ng Pilipinas sa West Philippine Sea, at ang pagpapatibay ng pang-ekonomiyang tulungan sa pagitan ng dalawang bansa,” said BAYAN.
(First on Harris' agenda are their security arrangements under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), a visit to Palawan to allegedly show support for the Philippines' claim to the West Philippine Sea, and the strengthening of economic aid between the two countries)
“Pinapayagan ng EDCA ang US na mag-pwesto ng mga tropa, armas at sasakyang pandigma sa layunin nitong palibutan ang Tsina. Hahatakin nito ang Pilipinas sa kumukulong banggaan ng dalawang imperyalistang pwersa. Kung gayon, wala sa pambansang interes ng Pilipinas na pasinayaan ang mga mala-base militar ng EDCA,” the group added.
(The EDCA allows the US to station troops, weapons, and warships in its goal to encircle China. This will drag the Philippines into the simmering collision between the two imperialist forces. Therefore, it is not in the national interest of the Philippines to inaugurate EDCA-like military bases)
BAYAN likewise said that in exchange, the US will provide $100 million military aid to the Philippine government for its counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism operations – translating to "more bombs and bullets" for Filipino civilians.
Meanwhile, Gabriela Women's Party also joined various progressive groups in the protest against US Vice President Kamala Harris' visit, which the lawmaker claimed came with a "special package."
"We protest and reject the US proposal to build five more shared locations under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), as this will signal increased deployment of US military troops and hardware to the country. This dangerously sets the platform for US military build-up in our bases and drags us closer to the risk of confrontations and war aside from making more women and children vulnerable to abuse by US troops," said Gabriela Women's Party Representative Arlene Brosas.
What is EDCA?
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is an agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the United States of America, deepening defense cooperation and mutual aid between countries.
EDCA authorizes access for the USA to "agreed locations" on a rotational basis and may use it for security cooperation exercises, joint and combined training, humanitarian and disaster response activities, and other agreed activities.
On the "agreed locations," the Philippines likewise authorizes United States forces, contractors, vehicles, vessels, and aircraft to conduct the following activities: training, transit, support, refueling aircraft, bunkering of vessels, and preposition of equipment, supplies, and material.
The agreement also allows the US to "preposition and store defense equipment, supplies, and material."