Statement on the US-RP Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)

Communist Party of the Philippines
April 30, 2014

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) roundly condemns the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) by the officials of the US and Philippine governments last Monday. The signing of the agreement was an act of extreme servility by the puppet Aquino regime.

Aquino rushed the signing of the agreement in order to offer it as a gift to the visiting US imperialist chieftain Barack Obama, even if it had yet to show the Filipino people the final text of the document. Indeed, Aquino's master, Obama, is very pleased with the agreement.

Officials of the US and Aquino regimes have gone the lengths to make it appear that the EDCA is neither a military bases agreement, nor does it violate the 1987 Philippine constitution. Their carefully worded statements, however, merely seek to deceive the Filipino people in order not to arouse their sense of patriotism and provoke resistance.

But no amount of deceptive propaganda can conceal the basic fact that the US military forces will have access to so-called "Agreed Locations" within the camps of the Philippine armed forces where they can build and make use of necessary facilities, dock their warships, land their jetfighters, operate their drones and preposition their war materiƩl.

The EDCA merely formalizes the military basing arrangement where US military forces under the 700-strong Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) have maintained their exclusive headquarters within Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City since 2003. While the JSOTF-P headquarters formally remain under the authority of the AFP, these have, in practice, been inaccessible to Philippine military officials. That the EDCA-specified "Agreed Locations" will remain under the jurisdiction of Philippine officials is mere tokenism.

The Aquino regime and the US embassy are engaging in a play of words when they claim that the EDCA will not pave the way for permanent US military presence, and that US soldiers in the Philippines are merely on rotation. The fact is, there has been an endless inflow and outflow of US soldiers and vessels "on rotation" for joint military exercises and so-called "routine port calls."

It is estimated that as many as 3,000-4,000 US troops are being "rotated" in the Philippines, either on land or sailing within Philippine territorial waters. While US troops and their vessels are "on rotation," the presence of the US military in the Philippines has been, in fact, permanent.

The Aquino regime hopes to generate support for the EDCA by claiming that it will help strengthen its claims in the maritime disputes in the South China Sea. The US government, however, has made it clear that it does not and will not take sides on the conflicting claims between the Philippines and China.

At this point of its strategic relations with China, the US has chosen to avoid antagonizing China and is more interested in pushing China to allow bigger freedom for US investors in that country. The US maintains its presence in the South China Sea, not so much to help the Philippines in its claims, but to ensure the passage of US surplus goods and project power in order to dissuade and contain China's growth as a military power.

Aquino claims that the EDCA will help the Philippines assert its territorial claims. The EDCA claims it will help modernize the AFP. The fact is, the AFP will be "modernized" only to the extent that the US needs it to be upgraded in order to serve "interoperability" with the US military. The US needs upgraded AFP facilities to enable the latter to host large US aircraft carriers, Ospreys, drones and the like.

US national interests are completely different from those of the Philippines. The US military will act in accordance with, and in pursuit of, US national interests, not in defense of Philippine national interests.

In signing the agreement, the Aquino regime has practically surrendered Philippine national interests by further binding Philippine foreign policy to US foreign policy. The EDCA further reinforces the international status of the Philippines as a mere pawn of the US military. As such, it is less able to exercise independence in forging international diplomatic and economic relations in accordance with its national interests.

Because the Aquino regime has chosen to become a pawn of the US military, it is incable of expanding and enhancing its relations with countries which are not allied with the US imperialist camp. The potential for expanding Philippine economic relations with other countries has become further limited with the signing of the EDCA.

The claims by Aquino's economic officials and local big business that military ties with the US are crucial to Philippine economic growth is a big lie. On the contrary, over a century of serving US military interests has perpetuated economic backwardness and dependence on foreign debt and capital and subjected the country to foreign economic plunder.

It is the US government and military that benefit from the EDCA. It serves the US government's strategic "Asia pivot" plan declared in 2011 which involves the deployment of up to 60% of US overseas naval and other military forces to the Asia-Pacific region. The Obama government's plan to increase US economic and military presence in the region is crucial in its effort to overcome the prolonged economic recession which started in 2008.

The Filipino people will not benefit from the EDCA. It is a further mockery of Philippine national independence and  perpetuates the status of the Philippines as a US semicolony.

The Filipino people must stand up and raise high the banner of national freedom. They must vigorously oppose the EDCA and demand its abrogation. They must also demand the abrogation of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement and demand the pullout of all US troops from the Philippines.

The struggle against the EDCA must be carried out in line with the overall struggle to achieve national and social liberation. Only by overthrowing the US puppets that perpetuate US neocolonial rule can the Philippines effectively assert national independence, defend its land and sea territories, advance an independent foreign policy and achieve economic modernization, genuine democracy and social justice.