Solicitor General Florin Hilbay may have defended well the country’s Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United State, when he appeared before the Supreme Court (SC) to answer petitions filed by some group contesting its legality, but the reality of it is that EDCA is no panacea to military aggression either by China or by any other country for that matter.
It is what it is described to be – to enhance our capability to defend ourselves from any aggression, but it does not mean the direct participation of the US forces, side by side with Filipinos, in defense of our territorial sovereignty.
The EDCA is a 10-year deal that allows a bigger American military presence in the country for the purpose of training Filipino soldiers, building structures, storing and positioning weapons, defense supplies and materiel, stationing troops, civilian personnel and defense contractors, transiting and stationing vehicles, vessels, and aircraft in agreed locations.
Suffice to say that the EDCA does not guarantee that the US will come to the aid of the Philippines in case of an armed conflict in the contested South China Sea.
This was confirmed by Hilbay, when Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio asked the former if EDCA ensured US assistance in the event of an armed conflict between the Philippines and China.
“I don’t want you to tell the world that we can rely on EDCA for our defense,” Carpio said.
“We are not saying that the EDCA is the answer to all our problems. What we are saying is that the EDCA will improve our facilities,” Hilbay responded.
So, there you go. The question now is: Is EDCA still relevant?
For being poor and militarily weak, what else could be more relevant than having EDCA improve our military capabilities in any way, shape and form?
Having military alliances with equally powerful countries like Japan and Australia, as it exists now, are advantageous for the country and should be continuously maintained and developed.
But what the Filipinos should learn from the EDCA oral arguments before the SC is that there should happen drastically a self-renewal or a self-revolution, if you may, amongst us in the way we live our ideals and beliefs politically and socially anchored on correct moral values and principles so that we could start making a strong statement that what this country needs are competent, responsible, honest and selfless public servants whose aim would be to stump graft and corruption in government, improve lives of people and develop the country to greatness, both economically and militarily, so that we can protect ourselves and the country adequately by our own means.
Let it not be said that there is no money. There is sufficient, but for as long as it is expended by unscrupulous people, in the guise of public leaders and public servants, for the wrong purpose, then the nation suffers, making us all vulnerable and victims of our own folly.