Senator Richard J. Gordon has cautioned the Duterte administration that withdrawing from the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States (US) is not advisable at present.
Gordon said junking EDCA, as President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to do, could give China more courage to make more serious maneuvers to attain their goal of gaining control over the disputed West Philippine Sea or South China Sea as it would weaken the US’ influence in Asia.
“I don’t think so right now. Kung yung statement ni President Duterte mapakinggan ng ibang bansa, hihina ang America at yung ibang bansa baka lilipat sa China. Lalong magkakaroon ng delikadong sitwasyon dito – lalakas ang China at hihina ang impluwensya ng Amerika dito sa Asya. Lalakas ang loob ng China na pwede na silang manapak dito dahil alam nilang kumakampi sa kanila ang ibang bansa,” he stressed.
The senator said EDCA should remain for now just in cas e conflict breaks out between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea.
“Napaka-delikado niyan. Sa akin, if China steps on Scarborough Shoals, that is a red line and we’ll have to fight. Scarborough Shoals is so near that we will have to fight. We will be like Finland during the Winter War in 1939,” he said.
The Winter War that Gordon referred to, which occurred from November 30, 1939 to March 13, 1940, was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. The Soviet Union ostensibly sought to claim parts of Finnish territory, demanding—amongst other concessions—that Finland cede substantial border territories in exchange for land elsewhere, claiming security reasons, primarily the protection of Leningrad, which was only 32 kilometers from the Finnish border. Finland refused and the Soviet Union invaded the country.
EDCA is an agreement between the US and the Philippines intended to bolster the U.S.–Philippine alliance. The agreement allows the United States to rotate troops into and out of the Philippines for extended stay and allows the U.S. to build and operate facilities on Philippine bases, for both American and Philippine forces.
Under EDCA, the US is not allowed to establish any permanent military bases, but it gives Philippine personnel access to American ships and planes.
The agreement was signed by then Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg in Manila on April 28, 2014. On January 12, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the agreement’s constitutionality in a 10–4 vote.