The EDCA is lopsided in favor of US and is an outright violation of Philippine sovereignty

Communist Party of the Philippines
May 2, 2014

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns the defense and security officials of the Aquino and Obama governments for their brazen lies in promoting the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which grants US forces basing rights in the Philippines.

A closer study of the text of the EDCA, a copy of which was only made publicly available the day after it was signed, reveals the agreement to be grossly lopsided in favor of the US government and military and in outright violation of Philippine sovereignty.

Article III, Section 1 authorizes US forces to conduct "training; transit; support and related activities; refuelling of aircraft; bunkering of vessels; temporary maintenance of vehicles, vessels and aircraft; temporary accommodation of personnel; communications; prepositioning of equipment, supplies and materiel; deploying forces and materiel; and other such activites as the Parties may agree."

This section grants US forces the authority to carry out just about the whole gamut of possible military operations within their camps.

Contrary to their previous public pronouncements, there is no provision in the EDCA that access to so-called Agreed Locations is to be granted "upon the invitation" of the Philippines. Sovereignty over these areas is surrendered to the US as its forces are granted authority to do practically anything that a military force need and want within its military bases.

Allowed the right to preposition and deploy its forces and war materiél within the US-controlled areas, these Agreed Locations can and will serve as US launching pads for its wars of aggression and gunboat diplomacy operations. Recall how the US used Clark and Subic as launching pads from which it carried out its wars of aggression against Vietnam from the 1950s to the 1960s as well as against Iran in the 1970s.

The EDCA clearly disregards Philippine sovereignty as the US is not required to ask the permission of the Philippine government before using the so-called Agreed Locations as bases for launching any foreign military operation. By signing the EDCA, the Aquino regime has allowed the Philippines to be bound the foreign and military policy of the US and has surrendered the sovereign right of the Philippines to independently determine its foreign policy.

The EDCA further opens the doors to US access to public land and facilities, beyond the so-called Agreed Locations, as indicated by Article III Section 2. It is further implied that such access will be provided to US forces automatically upon their request, requiring no prior agreement or arrangement.

This will pave the way for the US' use of roads, ports and airfields by US forces outside AFP military camps, including those in Subic and Clark, as well as any and all airports and ports across the country. Since the EDCA does not explicitly specify the parameters of "transit or temporary access", the US forces are practically allowed to establish permanent access to such facilities through successive transit operations as it "requests".

Under the guise of "humanitarian operations", the US has retained access to the Tacloban and Mactan airports, as well as the airstrip and naval port in Guiuan, long after US forces participated in the Yolanda relief operations.

The gross lopsidedness of the EDCA is likewise underscored by the fact that US access to the so-called Agreed Locations is being made available "without rental or similar costs", making it worse than the defunct Military Bases Agreement of 1946 which required the US to pay an annual rent.

The provisions of the EDCA which stipulates that titles and ownership of Agreed Locations shall be retained by the Philippines is an empty formality. It is also mere formality that the locations are declared to be under the authority of the Philippines, when in another provision (Art. III, Sec. 5), granting Philippine officials "prompt access" is subject to 'operational safety and security requirements'."

This is an outright insult to AFP base commanders who will be barred from carrying out 'surprise visits' to check on the activities of the US forces within the so-called Agreed Locations which are supposed to be under his authority.

Contrary to claims of retaining Philippine authority over the Agreed Locations, the EDCA specifies: (a) that the US forces and its contractors will have "unimpeded access" (Art. IV, Sec. 4) to the said locations for all activities relating to prepositioning and storage of war materiél; (b) that such prepositioned equipment, supplies and materiél will be "for the exclusive use of United States forces"; and (c) that US "shall have control over the access to and disposition" of such materiél and 'shall have the unencumbered right' to remove such materiél from the Philippines.

Aquino's officials have repeatedly claimed that the structures to be built by the US will automatically be owned by the Philippine government. However, Art. 5, Sec. 2 specify that upon return to the Philippines of the Agreed Locations, there will be consultations concerning "compensation for improvements or construction" which means the US military can demand payment for such structures, even when these were constructed for the use of the US forces, and are of no use to the Philippines.

Under Art. VII, Sec. 1, US forces are further granted by the Philippine government the priviledge to use water, electricity and other public facilities on terms and conditions enjoyed only by the Philippine government. The EDCA practically gives the US forces the status of a sovereign by granting priveldges reserved only for the Philippine government.

The US forces are further granted sovereign powers in Art. VII, Sec. 2 which allow the US forces "to operate its own telecommunication system" and make use of the radio spectrum "free of cost". In contrast, all radio operators in the Philippines go through a rigorous process of getting a franchise to use the radio spectrum and brodcast over the airwaves.

The puppet officials of the Aquino regime seem to enjoy the insults of their imperialist masters.

Indeed, there is a provision explicity stating that the prepositioned materiél of the US shall not include nuclear weapons (Art. IV, Sec 6). This, however, is but an empty declaration as there is no way for the Philippines to ensure compliance, especially in the face of standing US policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence of nuclear weapons in their nuclear-capable warships or jetfighters.

The abovecited provision of the EDCA which stipulated exclusive access of the US to its prepositioned materiél largely impede the Philippines from taking any action to ensure compliance of the US with the Philippine 1987 constitution prohibiting nuclear weapons.

Let us recall that the US has yet to make a clear accounting of the nuclear weapons it prepositioned in the Philippines during the 1970s and 1980s, as gleaned from declassified US government documents.

Based on recent experience, the Filipino people cannot trust the US government to comply with the provisions on health and environment. When US forces left Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base in 1992, it refused to foot the bill for the cleanup of the toxic waste it has left. Such toxic waste has already contaminated the water supply in Clark and nearby areas.

More recently, the US has refused to take responsibility for the dumping of toxic waste at the Subic waters in October 2012. After more than a year, the US has refused to make payments for the damages caused by the grounding of the US warship USS Guardian in early 2013.