U.S.-Philippine Pact Expands Defense Cooperation
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 28, 2014 U.S. and Philippine leaders praised the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement the two nations signed yesterday, saying it updates and builds on the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951.
The agreement “facilitates the enhanced rotational presence of U.S. forces, expands opportunities for training and supports the long-term modernization of the Philippine military,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters today.
The United States is “particularly focused” on strengthening Philippine maritime security, enhancing maritime domain awareness and improving humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities, the colonel said.
The agreement was announced during President Barack Obama's visit to the Phillippines. President Benigno Aquino III touted the benefits of the pact during a news conference in Manila yesterday.
“The Philippines is a vital partner on issues such as maritime security and freedom of navigation,” 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.”
The agreement will allow the United States to pre-position relief supplies in the Philippines, Warren said, but “does not provide for permanent U.S. bases, and we have no intent to open permanent bases in the Philippines.”
Aquino called the U.S.-Philippine security agreement a continuation of a strategic partnership. “Our deepening relations are attuned to the realities and needs that have emerged in the 21st century, which affect not only our two countries, but also the entire community of nations,” he said.
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement “takes security cooperation to a higher level of engagement, reaffirms our countries’ commitment to mutual defense and security and promotes regional peace and stability,” Aquino said.
Details of the agreement remain to be worked out. Officials could not say how the rotational U.S. presence in the Philippine archipelago will work, nor could they say where these rotations will take place.
The agreement does provide for the possibility of the United States building some infrastructure to support the rotations, officials said.