Resist the EDCA!

Ang Bayan
May 08, 2014

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and all the revolutionary forces of the Filipino people are one in condemning the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed by officials of the US and Philippine governments on April 28.

Aquino concealed the details of the negotiations and the terms of the agreement and fast-tracked its signing so he could present it as a gift to his visiting imperialist master Barack Obama.

The EDCA is a brazen violation of Philippine national sovereignty. Through the EDCA, the US will be enjoying unhampered rights to station an unlimited number of troops, military contractors, warships, jetfighters, weapons and other military equipment in so-called Agreed Locations without paying rent. The US military will also be allowed to use any seaport, airport and road in the Philippines that it may need.

The EDCA is a US basing agreement, contrary to the US’ insistent claims that it has no plans of establishing military bases. In fact, the US military will be allowed to build whatever facilities it may need and engage in all types of operations and activities within the locations allotted to them in areas inside AFP camps.

The EDCA formalizes the basing since 2003 of the 700-strong US Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) within its exclusive headquarters inside Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City. These headquarters being used by American soldiers are supposedly under AFP jurisdiction, but Philippine military officials are never given access to their area.

The EDCA further strengthens US military presence in the country. US claims that its soldiers are present only on a rotational basis in the Philippines are contradicted by the fact that US troops are permanently present on Philippine land or territorial waters with the constant ingress and egress of some 3,000-4,000 personnel and vehicles “on rotation.”

To court the Filipino people’s support, Aquino claims that the EDCA will strengthen Philippine capability to defend its territories in the South China Sea. In fact, US “assistance” to the AFP has been limited to enhancing the latter’s capability to accommodate the US’ large sea vessels and other military equipment.

Aquino has been boasting that the US will be on the Philippines’ side should a shooting war erupt with China, but Obama made no such promise in the speeches he delivered during his visit. Claims that “the US would defend the Philippines” are pure hogwash. Even when the Philippines was still a fullblown US colony, the US did not “defend” the country when Japanese forces invaded it in 1941.

In reality, the US has been maintaining its presence in the South China Sea, not to help the Philippines defend its territorial waters, but to secure the transit of US surplus products, project US power and curtail China’s rise as a military power.

The US and the Philippines have different national interests. The US military will act in accordance with US national interest, and not to defend Philippine national interest.

In signing the agreement, the Aquino regime has surrendered Philippine national interest 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. By signing the EDCA, the Aquino regime further reduces the Philippines’ ability to independently craft diplomatic and economic relations that would be more in line with its national interest.

Claims by Aquino’s economic officials and local big business that military ties with the US are crucial to Philippine economic growth are also a big lie. On the contrary, more than a century of serving US military interests has perpetuated economic backwardness and foreign debt and capital dependence 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 began in 2008.

The Filipino people will derive no 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 the pullout of all US troops from the Philippines.

The Aquino regime’s signing of the EDCA has stirred the patriotism of broad sectors of Philippine society and opens a new chapter in the historic struggle against US military domination in 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 territorial waters, advance an independent foreign policy and achieve economic modernization, genuine democracy and social justice.