The Philippines on Wednesday reaffirmed its commitment to strengthen its alliance with the United States, particularly in fully implementing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay made the statement as he met with his US counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss a full range of bilateral relations between Manila and Washington at the Department of Foreign Affairs office in Pasay City.
”I assured Secretary Kerry that we will pursue our planning process for the full implementation of EDCA. The EDCA will help us prepare for the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and contribute to our AFP modernization efforts,” said Yasay in a press conference.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court affirmed with finality EDCA’s legality which stipulates the increased rotational presence of American troops in the country.
Under the agreement, the US is allowed to build structures, store as well as preposition weapons, defense supplies and materiel; station troops, civilian personnel and defense contractors; transit and station vehicles, vessels and aircraft for a period of 10 years.
For his part, Kerry lauded the “very responsible and measured way” in which the Philippine government responded to the UN tribunal ruling.
Kerry, however stressed that the US takes a strong position in supporting the rule of law, as well as on protecting rights and freedoms of nations to freedom of navigation and use of air and sea space.
”We have made clear that the decision of the UN tribunal ruling on the South China Sea row is legally binding… The rights of the countries should always be respected,” Kerry said. (Filane Mikee Z. Cervantes/PNA)