EDCA still on: Duterte, Trump re-affirm commitment to stronger PH-US military ties

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and US President Donald Trump share a light moment prior to the bilateral meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on November 13, 2017. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
  • US and Philippine presidents re-affirmed their countries’ commitment to EDCA
  • Both also stressed freedom of movement in South China Sea and peaceful resolution of disputes
  • Trump described PH as a strategic military location, praised strong ties with US

MANILA, Philippines  –  The executive agreement President Rodrigo Duterte once threatened to scrap is now off the hook after both he and US President Donald Trump re-affirmed countries’ commitment to its implementation.

In their joint statement, the two sides pledged to respect the Mutual Defense Treaty and carry out the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which would see the deployment of US troops in the country on a larger scale.

“The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, as reinforced by the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement,” read their statement. “The two sides discussed proposals to support the United States’ efforts to help modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines, develop capacity and capability for maritime security and domain awareness, and provide rapid humanitarian assistance.  They also reaffirmed their commitment to continue defense cooperation, including by reinforcing respective national defense capabilities and interoperability and enhancing joint activities, disaster response, and cybersecurity.”

The two presidents said they also stressed the importance of freedom of overflight and navigation in the South China, as well as the resolution of disputes through peaceful means.

Trump, who is now out of the country after attending the ASEAN summit, described the Philippines as a strategic military location — hence the need to maintain good relations.

“We have a very, very strong relationship with the Philippines, which is really important, less so for trade in this case, but for military purposes, it is a strategic location, the most strategic location,” he said. “It’s very important that we get along with the Philippines and we really do. We have a good very good relationship. I would actually say, probably, better than ever before.”