THE country’s envoy to the United States is puzzled over China’s objection to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), as he cited the latter’s incursions into Philippine territory.
In a recent interview on CNN Philippines, Ambassador Jose Manuel DG. Romualdez said it is Beijing that is “creating tension in our territory in the Ayungin Shoal and many parts” of the country’s waters.
“We should ask the question to them. [For us,] we have been doing this as part of our Mutual Defense Treaty, which has been in-place since 1951,” Romualdez stated. “Now they are questioning…the kind of relationship…we have with the US.”
The diplomat clarified that Manila’s move to improve military ties with the US is meant to serve as a “deterrence,” and in no way directed against any country.
“[We want] peace and stability in the area by having the presence of the US, and China is our neighbor,” he pointed out. “What we want is peace; so if there is a dispute, let’s talk. This is not directed to any country; no one wants that.”
Prior to this, the Chinese Foreign Ministry warned Manila that the increase in America’s military deployment “would only lead to more tensions and less peace and stability in the region.”
“Regional countries need to think about what is right for the region and mutually beneficial, so as to make a choice that serves regional peace and stability as well as their own interests,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.
In a separate statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs reiterated that the newly announced EDCA sites aim to “enhance the interoperability” of the US and Philippine armed forces to better respond to threats, including on humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
“[President Marcos’s] announcement affirms a robust commitment between the Philippines and the US to a stronger alliance that promotes regional peace and stability, addresses new and emerging shared security challenges, and provides for greater socioeconomic opportunities for many Filipinos,” Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said.
EDCA, Daza said, allows the construction of facilities and infrastructure upgrades that directly contribute to the enhancement of the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“More than construction in support of shared goals with the US, these programs are investments by the Philippines in its own defense and security, benefitting military installations under the full ownership and operational control of the AFP,” she added.
Image credits: File photo