PH-US military deal won't offend China – Trillanes
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV dismissed fears that the newly signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the US would provoke China.
"I can say that having dealt with the Chinese they will not be offended by this. They are friends. US and China are closer friends than we are to the US," the senator told Rappler on Tuesday, April 29.
Trillanes has done back-channeling negotiations between the Philippines and China regarding the countries' territorial dispute.
"It [EDCA] was never raised in any conversation," Trillanes added.
A former Navy officer, Trillanes welcomed the new agreement that will increase the presence of American troops in the Philippines and allow them to build and upgrade military facilities.
"It’s a reassurance of our alliance with US. All doubts about that have been erased," he said.
"I'm looking at the EDCA from the perspective of what the AFP will learn from this. [I have] experienced Balikatan exercises myself. We were updated with the current tactics and doctrines of modern warfare which you cannot do on your own. You cannot Google that. You cannot research that.You have to apply it," he said.
Trillanes said he wants the US to bring in submarines and sealift capabilities.
Trillanes noted statements by Obama about the US not taking sides in territorial disputes.
"It’s going to be unfair for us to push [and] to expect them to fight all our battles. They have their own foreign policy framework which unfortunately for us doesn’t include the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea. They’re very clear about it," he said.
Trillanes said the Philippines also needs to "deal with China in a less hostile manner."
"We need allies, all allies, we don’t need enemies.... we have to reach out [to] China in a less hostile manner," he said.
President Benigno Aquino III has issued strong statements opposing the aggressiveness of China in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea). Yet he would also say that this is just one component of the country's wide-ranging relations with China.
The Philippines asked for US military assistance in the wake of its escalating maritime dispute with China. It has also lodged a case against China before an international tribunal.
On Day 1 of his Manila visit on Monday, April 28, Obama evaded a question on how the US would help the Philippines in case of armed conflict over disputed territories.
But he issued a stronger statement on Tuesday, April 29, before he left for the US, stressing the "ironclad" committment of the US under the PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty to defend the Philippines against "external armed attacks." - Rappler.com
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