Will the U.S. defend PH against China?
EDITORIAL CARTOON BY JIM ANDALIS
Flea Market of Ideas
By Joel Ruiz Butuyan
NOW THAT the Supreme Court has upheld the validity of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca), will the United States defend the Philippines if the islands and shoals the Philippines occupies in the West Philippine Sea are attacked by China?
This is the question that must have sprung in the minds of ordinary Filipinos after the high court dismissed the petitions questioning the validity of the agreement that was signed by the Philippines and the United States in 2014.
The Edca allows the stationing of more US military forces in the Philippines, which both U.S. and Filipino authorities claim will only be on a rotational basis during military training and exercises, and disaster relief operations.
Under the terms of the Edca, the US undertaking is to provide training and exercises for military purposes, as well as disaster relief assistance, by stationing American forces on a rotational basis in the Philippines. Toward these ends, the U.S. is given rent-free use of Philippine locations where it can bring equipment, vehicles, supplies, and weaponry, with the U.S. retaining ownership of these movable properties. The Philippines will have to pay for these movable properties if it wants to acquire them. The U.S. can also construct, renovate, and expand permanent structures that will be used for these activities. Ownership of the structures will be given to the Philippines if these are no longer used by the U.S., but the latter has the right to demand payment for its construction expenses.
When she was the U.S. secretary of state, Democratic Party presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton said America remained neutral in the dispute between the Philippines and China over the Spratly Islands. Clinton declared: “The United States does not take a position on any territorial claim because any nation with a claim has a right to assert it, but they do not have a right to pursue it through intimidation or coercion.”
The U.S. has never acknowledged that the Philippine-occupied islands and shoals in the Spratlys are undisputed parts of Philippine territory, and this is both reason and excuse why it has never committed to defend the Philippines in an armed conflict with China over these territories.
(PDI/ Jan. 18, 2016)
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