EDCA and VFA: Are they good for RP?*

Due to popular demand, Beyond Deadlines is reposting every Monday the articles of retired Armed Forces of the Philippines intelligence chief Brig. General Victor Corpus that appeared in his BD’s column, Views from the East.

Oct. 12, 2016

WHEN maverick Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago was alive, she fought for the scrapping of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) as well as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Santiago said the theory that the EDCA finds its validity on the VFA is flawed, as both agreements fall under the category of treaties prohibited by the Constitution, Article 18, Section 25, which states that “foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate…and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

It is difficult for one to fathom how the Supreme Court can declare or rule that EDCA and the VFA are constitutional when both agreements have not been duly concurred in by the Senate … and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State (i.e., the United States). But setting the legal issue aside, Filipinos should start asking themselves: Are EDCA and the VFA in conformity with Philippine national security? Are they promoting Philippine national interest?

“The Philippines has agreed to allow the United States to use five military bases where US troops and supplies can be stationed under a security deal agreed amid rising tensions with China’s excessive claims in the South China Sea. . . The EDCA grants Washington increased military presence in its former colony through rotation of ships and planes for humanitarian and maritime security operations. It allows US soldiers, warships and planes to temporarily base in Filipino military locations.” (by Jose Katigbak, The Philippine Star, March 20, 2016).

What are the implications of these agreements? First, let us consider the situation if there are no EDCA and VFA. This means that there will be no US military presence based in the Philippines; and no rotation of US ships and planes in Philippine territory. Without US military presence, there is no danger of the Philippines being put in the cross-hair of Chinese medium or intermediate range ballistic missiles; whether armed with nuclear warheads or not.

This is based on China’s military doctrine contained in China’s Defense White Paper stating that China will not be the first to attack (or to use nuclear weapons); but if they are attacked, they will surely counter-attack. Part of this doctrine also states that they will never use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state; or threaten the use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear nation or in a nuclear-free zone.

The security picture completely changes with the implementation of EDCA and the VFA.

With the presence now of the US military forces with their warships and warplanes stationed on rotation basis in those EDCA bases (some of which may possibly be carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles with nuclear warheads), China will be forced to zero-in a barrage or volley of missiles to neutralize each and every one of those EDCA bases in the event of a military confrontation with the US. And if the US uses any of its nuclear weapons in attacking China, China will respond in kind by raining missiles armed with nuclear warheads on these EDCA bases.

China does not even have to wait for the US to attack first.

Based on China’s military doctrine of “active defense”, if China perceives that the US forces in the Philippine is already poised to attack, China will not passively await to be attacked; it is mandated to seize the tactical or operational initiative and will attack first. These are the dangers posed on Filipinos by EDCA and the VFA. These agreements serve US national interest first and foremost, because they give the US military convenient jumping boards or launching pads in a military confrontation against China; but they run counter to Philippine national interests and national security because they expose our population to the danger of a nuclear counter-strike or a conventional missile counter-attack or preemptive attack.


* The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

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