PH military says EDCA to address capability gaps

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine armed forces welcomed the favorable Supreme Court ruling on the military deal with the US, saying it's a tool to address capability gaps in the organization.

"We look forward to further enhancing interoperability, addressing short-term capability gaps, promoting long term modernization of our forces, helping maintain maritime security  and maritime domain awareness, and developing HADR capabilities," said Armed Forces chief General Hernando Iriberri in a statement Tuesday, January 12. 

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) allows the US military to increase its rotational presence in the Philippines and to construct facilities that will, among others, house defense assets it will bring in. 

It was a deal negotiated amid escalating tension in the region because of China's aggressiveness in the South China Sea. 

The US also welcomed the verdict. "EDCA is a mutually beneficial agreement that will enhance our ability to provide rapid humanitarian assistance and help build capacity for the Armed Forces of the Philippines," the US embassy in Manila said.

One of the weakest militaries in Asia, the Philippines has embarked in a modest modernization program to improve its deterrence capabilities. 

The locations of these US facilities have not been divulged but it will be decided by Iriberri and the commander of the Hawaii-based US Pacific Command.

EDCA was signed in April 2014 but it was brought to the Supreme Court on grounds that it is "de facto" basing and thus unconstitutional. But the Court ruled that EDCA is merely an implementation of the Visiting Forces Agreement that the Senate ratified in 1999. –