- Former Pacific Command chief rebuffs claims PH is being dragged into US-China rivalry
- He also touts the benefits EDCA will have on the Philippines
- The agreement will greatly enhance PH’s maritime security capabilities in West PH Sea
MANILA, Philippines – When all hell breaks loose in the West Philippine Sea, who will Filipinos want on their side?
Former US Pacific Command chief and retired Admiral Samuel Locklear posed this question even as he touted the benefits the controversial Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) will bring to the Philippines.
In Manila for the soft launch of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)’ report on the US-Philippine alliance, Locklear dismissed claims that the Southeast Asian country is just being needlessly dragged into the growing US-China rivalry.
“I would say to those critics who say we are just using the Philippines…well, the Philippines is a part of a larger set of problems that have to be dealt with, you can’t isolate yourself,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted him as saying.
Locklear then asked Filipinos who they would rather prefer having on their side.
“The question is: how do you want to be here and who do you want to be with while you are here?” he asked.
The retired admiral also described how the Philippines would greatly stand to benefit from EDCA which would allow for a greater presence of US troops and military equipment in the country as well as the construction of infrastructure which would become the property of the government.
“You’re a country of 7,000 islands, a huge archipelago, and vast potential EEZs to have to police and manage,” he said. “The Filipino Navy and Coast Guard have a way to go to realize the type of capacity they need to be able to defend such a large area so I think that’s primarily where we’d be,” he said.