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Opinion

EDCA: A Strong Commitment to Protect the Philippines

This is in relation to the issue on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) especially on the additional sites in Northern Luzon particularly in the province of Cagayan Valley that was approved by the National Government.

With hindsight, EDCA was designed to supplement the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement which was approved last 2014. This agreement aims to develop individual and collective capacities by improving the interoperability of the two country’s armed forces, promoting long-term Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization, helping maintain and develop maritime security, and expanding humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

EDCA is said to be executed for 10 years only and this year is its 9th year being implemented in the country but still, it faces many challenges. Recently, a prayer rally was conducted to oppose the installation of additional EDCA sites in the province and at the same time, a resolution from the League of Municipalities of Cagayan was released stating the approval of some of the Local Government Officials supporting the EDCA in their province.

The exercise has its pros and cons but looking closely, it was considered to improve the competence of the AFP and the US Armed Forces in the conduct of not just conventional military training but also with civil military initiatives focusing on reaching out to priority communities. It would also deal with internal and external dangers as well as enhance the nation’s capacity for disaster response.

Thus, EDCA further aids the AFP in fostering its ties with communities and the local government entities in their areas of responsibility. There is also the active participation of the LGUs as well as the NGOs in terms of conducting community-based activities in relation to EDCA. In short, the community will be the ones benefitting from the exercise because the facilities or projects that will be conducted in the area will be turned-over to them.

And as a native from Region 2, I believe that the presence of EDCA sites will not only promote tourism but will increase the economic status in our region because our “visitors” will have the opportunity to explore our place and will have the chance to discover the things that our region is proud of such as the beautiful sceneries and tourist spots.

From what I have sought, the Philippines and its defense treaty ally will work together thru EDCA to further bolster their individual and collective defense capacities. I know that the present administration knows what they are doing and that their decision should be supported. After all, it will not be implemented for 9years already if the Filipinos did not benefit from this exercise at all.

The goal of a more powerful Philippines should be shared by all Filipinos if there is UNITY,

Sheila Mae Viernes
Cauayan City, Isabela

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