MANILA, Philippines – Rappler talks to US Ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg.
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As ambassador to the Philippines, Goldberg has been aggressive “broadening and deepening what has already been a very fine relationship” between the Philippines and US including increasing American troop presence here.
In December of 2013, the envoy cited Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) as a reason to forge closer ties with the US. He said, “It’s important for the Philippines, I think, as we saw with Super Typhoon Yolanda, to have an even greater ability to provide for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief… There are reasons to build minimal defense capability and maritime defense awareness. That will come with the framework agreement.” (READ: New US envoy: PH needs us more after Haiyan)
Goldberg was referring to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which was signed by Goldberg and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on April 28. The deal allows the US to construct facilities and upgrade infrastructures, store and preposition defense and disaster preparedness equipment, supplies, and material. There is also no ceiling for the number of American troops who can visit the Philippines. (READ: PH, US sign military deal)
Signed hours before the arrival of Obama in Manila, it was seen as the most significant part of Obama’s Asian tour. The agreement was signed amid tensions between the Philippines and China over disputed territories in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
Despite Goldberg’s assurance the US does not intend to set up military bases here, the deal was criticized for it’s “lack of transparency” and “one-sidedness.” A petition has also been submitted to the Supreme Court to declare EDCA unconstitutional. (READ: DOCUMENT: Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement)
Before being nominated for the position by US President Barack Obama in July of 2013, Goldberg served as the US Ambassador to Bolivia and Chief of Mission in Pristina, Kosovo. The White House describes him as a “a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career-Minister,” and “Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Research at the Department of State, a position he has held since 2010.” (READ: Philip Goldberg next US envoy to PH)
Watch the interview below.