Mutual Defense Treaty, Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement could be junked like Visiting Forces Agreement

March 01, 2020

THE Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the US could go the way of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which was unilaterally ended by President Duterte.

“Yung VFA kasi, yun ang nagiging pampalakas sa dalawang agreement. Kung tinanggal mo yun, ibig sabihin hihina na yung dalawa. Eh ‘di papunta ka na rin doon,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo explained in a radio interview.

Under the MDT, signed by the Philippines and the US in 1951, both parties agreed that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either the Philippines or the US would compel the two countries to meet the common dangers in accordance with constitutional processes.

The EDCA, meanwhile, was drawn up to support the MDT and allowed American troops to be stationed in the Philippines. However, the agreement did not allow the US to establish a permanent military presence in the Philippines or set up military bases in the country.

Recently, the Philippines informed the US that it was terminating the VFA, which governs the conduct of visiting US personnel holding military exercises in the Philippines.

Panelo said the decision to scuttle the VFA was rooted in President Rodrigo Duterte’s belief that the Philippines, as a country, should stand on its own feet.

“Kung ang basis ni Presidente maging self-reliant, so lahat ng logical consequences nun, darating. Paano ka magiging self-reliant kung meron ka pa ring military force agreement doon sa tinanggalan mong una?” he added.

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez earlier said he and US Ambassador Sung Kim were trying to find ways to craft another deal to replace the VFA.

Panelo said, however, that a new agreement would merely be a recommendation to the President.

“Si Presidente, ang position niya remains unchanged. Gusto niya pa rin na matanggal ang VFA. Gusto niya talaga na maging self-reliant tayo. Yun ang pinakapunto niya,” he said.

“Initiative siguro yun ng counterpart ni Ambassador Romualdez. Siyempre sila ang apektado e kaya sila ang mag-iinitiate ng mga magandang panukala,” he added.