VP Binay: EDCA won’t freeze Chinese ties
By Russell Jay M. Manglicmot
Vice President Jejomar Binay said that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States of America won’t affect economic ties with China on Thursday during the CSIS Sumitro Djojohadikusumo Banyan Tree Leadership Forum.
The Vice President said that in 2013, China became the largest trading partner of the Philippines, and many Filipinos are of Chinese descent and is an important sector of the population.
“Trade, as well as the deep filial ties that bind our peoples will prevail over the issues of territory and boundaries that are currently threatening our relationship,” he said.
Binay expressed that the country will continue to resolve territorial disputes based on international law by going for arbitration as provided for in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“The Philippines fully supports the conclusion of a binding Code of Conduct on the South China Sea, or the COC, between ASEAN [Association of South East Asian Nations] and China. We also seek to gain understanding of this issue in such regional fora as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the East Asian Summit (EAS),” he added.
He also said that U.S. military presence in the country will increase defense capabilities against external aggressions; and through EDCA, the country can focus on developing a solid economic base to combat poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, and disease.
“Through the EDCA, we have effectively upgraded our own security platform, without shifting a significant portion of our limited resources to support an arms race and procure weapons systems that exceed our normal defense requirements,” he said.
The EDCA is an implementing agreement of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the US and the Philippines which allow US forces to use Philippine military bases as part of efforts to upgrade the defense capabilities of both countries.
The agreement was signed by U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin hours before US President Obama arrives in the country for a state visit.