The US Government has signed a ten-year defence cooperation agreement with the Philippines, in an effort to promote stability in the region.
Under negotiations over the last eight months, the enhanced defence cooperation agreement (EDCA) was signed by US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, and Philippines National Defence secretary Voltaire Gazmin, during US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country.
Pentagon spokesperson US Army colonel Steve Warren said the agreement facilitates the enhanced rotational presence of US forces, while expanding opportunities for training and supporting the long-term modernisation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The EDCA will enable the US to pre-position relief supplies in the Philippines, but ‘does not provide for permanent US bases’, Warren added, noting that the US is ‘particularly focused’ on strengthening maritime security, as well as enhancing maritime domain awareness and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities.
Obama said: “The goal for this agreement is to build Philippine capacity, to engage in training, to engage in coordination; not simply to deal with issues of maritime security, but also to enhance our capabilities so that if there’s a natural disaster that takes place, we’re able to potentially respond more quickly, [and] if there are additional threats that may arise, that we are able to work in a cooperative fashion.”
Philippines President Benigno Aquino III said the EDCA ‘takes security cooperation to a higher level of engagement, reaffirms our commitment to mutual defence and security and promotes regional peace and stability’.
Even though specific details of the agreement are still being worked out, unnamed officials said the accord could allow the US to build infrastructure to support the rotations.