House Deputy Speaker and Batangas 6th district Rep. Ralph Recto has a lot of questions about the apparent expansion of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States (US).
"As the number of EDCA bases mutate into , the administration should brief Congress and tell the public on where these additional will be," Recto said in a statement Friday afternoon, Feb. 3.
"National security is not harmed by that candor. But any secrecy will deal transparency, an avowed hallmark of this administration, a serious blow," he noted.
"What are the benefits that we as a nation will gain from the EDCA 9? Panalo ba ang bayan diyan? At ano naman kaya ang maaring perwisyo, kung meron man? (Is this a good deal for the country? And what are the disadvantages, if any?)" asked the former Senate President pro tempore.
"The men from Washington who came to town said they would like to speed up EDCA’s implementation. If that is what they desire, then what is the ultimate goal?" he further asked.
"Ilang military bases pa ba ang sasaklawin sa darating na panahon? (How many more military bases will be covered in the future?) Are we being built up as their armed garrison in the Pacific as a tripwire to Chinese expansionism?" Recto wondered put loud.
Signed by the two governments on April 28, 2014, the EDCA allows the US to rotate troops into the Philippines for extended stays and allows the US to build and operate facilities on Philippine bases for both American and Philippine forces, according to Wikipedia.
The deal states that the US is not allowed to establish any permanent military bases. The Philippines, in turn, have personnel access to American ships and planes.
"By agreeing to EDCA plus, defense officials would have first studied its ramifications, specifically the potential reaction from other states, and our planned responses," the House official said.
Recto further wondered about the reason behind the EDCA expansion. "Are the bases the sum of our fears?"
"In principle, this is an administration prerogative I support. But I ask that whatever agreements be made public and the pros and cons be told," he underscored.