(EDCA) ENHANCED DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENT: WHAT'S IN IT FOR US?

Why should we allow ourselves to be attacked by the enemies of the US when the US has not given us the same assurance it had given Japan that it would come to our assistance against China? Let’s compare exactly what President Barack Obama promised the Japanese and what he promised us. “Our commitment to Japan’s security is absolute and article five [of the security treaty] covers all territories under Japan’s administration, including the Senkaku islands.” In this context, Obama promised that the US is duty-bound to come to Japan’s aid in the event of a conflict with China over a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea. Compare this with what he declared regarding the Philippines: “Our commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad. x x x We believe that nations and peoples have the right to live in security and peace and to have their sovereignty and territorial integrity respected.” Furthermore, the US President declared, “We believe that international law must be upheld, that freedom of navigation must be preserved and commerce must not be impeded. We believe that disputes must be resolved peacefully and not by intimidation or force.”  While both commitments appear to be firm, note that Obama did not mention the Spratlys or Panatag in his remarks about the Philippines. He however explicitly mentioned Senkaku Island, which is at the heart of the territorial dispute between China and Japan. Why was this so? It is because unlike Senkaku, which the US believes is part of the Japanese territory, the Americans have never believed that we have title over the Spratlys and the Scarborough shoal. In fact in 1933 when France first declared it had title to the Spratlys, only Japan, China and the United Kingdom protested the French claim. The Americans, who were then the colonial power in the Philippines, did not protest the French proclamation. Why? CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Disappointment

Expectations might have been better managed weeks before Barack Obama launched into his Asian tour. That might have mitigated the sense, after all the pomp and ceremony, that the visit was much ado about nothing really. Three of the four Asian destinations Obama visited might be considered “frontline states” — therefore expectant of stronger, clearer and more definite signals of support from the leader of the world’s last remaining superpower. They wanted some substantiation of the much-advertised “pivot to Asia.” Japan, at least, received US recognition of their claims over the Senkaku islands now challenged by China. South Korea is constantly assured by large troop presence of continuing US engagement to dissuade North Korea’s antics. The Philippines, although most enthusiastically pro-US, did not receive clear-cut recognition of its South China Sea claims even as it offered a deal for virtual basing rights for the American military. All we got were reiterations about the Mutual Defense Treaty being “ironclad” and shibboleths about the peaceful resolution of territorial disputes. Quite to the contrary, Obama took great care to remind every one that the alliances the US seeks to fortify were not at all intended to “counter” China. The emerging Asian power, after all, is important to the US in ways that far overshadow the minor matter of competing claims for miniscule reefs and shoals. Malacañang, to be sure, fantasized about immense political windfall from the Obama visit. At best, the Palace hoped for a clear Obama endorsement for the shrill and confrontational policy this administration pursued against China. That did not come. The best Obama could do was to endorse our resort to international arbitration, a process unlikely to obtain a definite resolution of the competing claims since it is not recognized by the counter-party. READ MORE...

ALSO: WHAT DID WE GET FROM OBAMA VISIT?

Did we really get anything from the state visit of US President Barack Obama? Former senator Joker P. Arroyo summed it in one word: “Zero.” Arroyo said the Philippines only got “heaping shibboleths” from the US leader. He said Obama should have at least cautioned China against being “embroiled in a shooting war” with the Philippines. During his stay, Obama assured that the United States’ commitment to defend the Philippines is iron-clad (as stated in the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty) and that his country will keep that commitment because allies never stand alone. Political analysts insist Obama seemed careful with his words as he does not want to antagonize China which is one of US key trade partners. “Our goal is not to counter China,” Obama said in a joint press briefing with President Aquino in Malacañang. He reiterated the US supports the peaceful resolution of the Philippines’ dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea. Obama has said the US will defend the Philippines in case of an attack by another country. But the territorial dispute with China is not covered by the MDT. CONTINUIE READING...

ALSO: OBAMA AND MANILA: BEFORE AND BEYOND

Obama of America should have attended this year’s celebration of the Kadaugan sa Mactan where he would have seen our arnisadors in action and learned that the Philippine Saga is one of military history, starting with the First Victory (that of Datu Kalipulako over Magellan). He should have visited the Philippine Army Museum in Fort Bonifacio, thus, viewing the profile of the Pangulo ng Republika ng Haringbayang Katagalugan and the accomplishments of President Bonifacio’s descendants. Maybe next time? Obama is now back in America, even as his hosts are left pondering their next moves in their neighborhood still bedeviled by terrorism, hegemonism and jihadism. With these challenges in mind, can we learn anything from the archives of the American presidents? (1) Military bases have been a boon and a bane to both sides. “The traditionally close historical association between the U.S. and the Philippines mitigates, but does not eliminate, the problems inherent in the maintenance of any military bases on foreign soil. Despite the general friendly feeling the Filipinos have for the U.S., the operation of our bases has been and probably will continue to be a source of misunderstanding, and possibly even friction, between our two countries.” [Roy M. Melbourne, Acting Executive Officer, Operations Coordinating Board, “U.S. Policy toward the Philippines (NSC5813/1),” 03 December 1958] (2) The utility of American military facilities in the Pearl of the Orient is simply one element in the security relations between Washington and Manila and in the Superpower’s broader regional and global interests. See, for example, Zbigniew Brzezinki’s Presidential Review Memorandum/NSC 14, dated 26 January 1977, addressed to the U.S. Vice President, Secretaries of State, Defense and Treasury, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations, Directors of the Office of Management and Budget and of Central Intelligence, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (3) Not unexpectedly, the U.S. tends to rely more on its other Allies (NATO, G7, etc.) than on its junior partners. In trying to settle the Indochina War, for instance, “five-power military staff talks were held in Washington chiefly to impress the Communists, though some loss to relations with Thailand and the Philippines was sustained through their exclusion from the ‘white man’s club’.” [Operations Coordinating Board, Washington 25 DC, Progress Report on NSC 5405: United States Objectives and Courses of Action with Respect to Southeast Asia, 30 July 1954] CONTINUIE READIN TO (4)...


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The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement: What’s in it for us?


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THE WRITER

MANILA, MAY 5, 2014
(MANILA STANDARD) By Atty. Harry Roque Jr.- Why should we allow ourselves to be attacked by the enemies of the US when the US has not given us the same assurance it had given Japan that it would come to our assistance against China?

Let’s compare exactly what President Barack Obama promised the Japanese and what he promised us.

“Our commitment to Japan’s security is absolute and article five [of the security treaty] covers all territories under Japan’s administration, including the Senkaku islands.” In this context, Obama promised that the US is duty-bound to come to Japan’s aid in the event of a conflict with China over a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Compare this with what he declared regarding the Philippines: “Our commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad. We believe that nations and peoples have the right to live in security and peace and to have their sovereignty and territorial integrity respected.”

Furthermore, the US President declared, “We believe that international law must be upheld, that freedom of navigation must be preserved and commerce must not be impeded. We believe that disputes must be resolved peacefully and not by intimidation or force.”

While both commitments appear to be firm, note that Obama did not mention the Spratlys or Panatag in his remarks about the Philippines. He however explicitly mentioned Senkaku Island, which is at the heart of the territorial dispute between China and Japan.

Why was this so?

It is because unlike Senkaku, which the US believes is part of the Japanese territory, the Americans have never believed that we have title over the Spratlys and the Scarborough shoal. In fact in 1933 when France first declared it had title to the Spratlys, only Japan, China and the United Kingdom protested the French claim. The Americans, who were then the colonial power in the Philippines, did not protest the French proclamation.

Why?

Because they thought that what they purchased from Spain through the Treaty of Paris were only the land territories contained in the map annexed to the Treaty, even if the Treaty does specify that what was bought was the “archipelago of the Philippines, the common meaning of which means islands and waters forming a unitary whole.

So if the Americans would not come to our assistance against China on the West Philippines Sea, why did we allow them further access to our military bases?

Under International Humanitarian Law, the governing law in times of armed conflict, all enemies of the US can target our territory since we allowed US servicemen and facilities to be in our territory. This means that in case of a shooting war, say over Crimea, or because of the on-going US war against terrorism, Russia and terrorist groups can now lawfully target our territory because US troops are present in our territory. With this very high cost arising from the EDCA, what’s in it for us?

Certainly it can’t be any monetary benefit since EDCA does not even require the Americans to pay us rent. Economic reality has made the maintenance of permanent US bases unaffordable for the Americans. Perhaps this is also why they would not pay rent even for their short-term presence in our territory.

Other than the misplaced gratification on the part this administration to be known as America’s lackey, I can’t think of any further benefit that we can derive from the EDCA.

Worse, the EDCA is unconstitutional. While the Aquino administration claimed that it is in furtherance of the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement, neither treaty is in fact applicable. The MDT is applicable only in case of an armed attack against our “metropolitan territory” or attacks against our “islands in the Pacific”. Since there is currently no armed attack, and since an attack on the Spratlys cannot trigger the application of the MDT, the EDCA cannot possibly be based on the MDT. Neither can it be anchored on the VFA because the presence of US troops pursuant to EDCA goes beyond “visiting”. It is in fact an implementation of a US Defense policy to do away with permanent bases. This being the case, EDCA had to be signed as a separate agreement from the MDT and the VFA. This is why our policy makers, through a 2/3 vote of all our senators, need to give their concurrence to the agreement . This is to ensure that it is pursuant to our national interest.

Perhaps, this administration does not want the senators involved because it knows that the EDCA does not promote our national interest and/or that the administration simply does not have the political support in the Senate, at least not the kind of support that it had when former Chief Justice Renato Corona was removed.

Let’s wise up. Only the Filipinos can stand up for the Philippine interest. Enough of this colonial mentality.

FROM PHILSTAR

Disappointment FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 1, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Alex Magno

Expectations might have been better managed weeks before Barack Obama launched into his Asian tour. That might have mitigated the sense, after all the pomp and ceremony, that the visit was much ado about nothing really.

Three of the four Asian destinations Obama visited might be considered “frontline states” — therefore expectant of stronger, clearer and more definite signals of support from the leader of the world’s last remaining superpower. They wanted some substantiation of the much-advertised “pivot to Asia.”

Japan, at least, received US recognition of their claims over the Senkaku islands now challenged by China. South Korea is constantly assured by large troop presence of continuing US engagement to dissuade North Korea’s antics.

The Philippines, although most enthusiastically pro-US, did not receive clear-cut recognition of its South China Sea claims even as it offered a deal for virtual basing rights for the American military. All we got were reiterations about the Mutual Defense Treaty being “ironclad” and shibboleths about the peaceful resolution of territorial disputes.

Quite to the contrary, Obama took great care to remind every one that the alliances the US seeks to fortify were not at all intended to “counter” China. The emerging Asian power, after all, is important to the US in ways that far overshadow the minor matter of competing claims for miniscule reefs and shoals.

Malacañang, to be sure, fantasized about immense political windfall from the Obama visit. At best, the Palace hoped for a clear Obama endorsement for the shrill and confrontational policy this administration pursued against China. That did not come. The best Obama could do was to endorse our resort to international arbitration, a process unlikely to obtain a definite resolution of the competing claims since it is not recognized by the counter-party.

In every speech, Obama emphasized the value of our alliance in terms of calamity assistance. In his last event, the American president chose to honor the first responders to Yolanda’s fury, a team of Filipino and American soldiers who rushed to Tacloban aboard our aging C-130 transport plane. Just riding that rickety plane in bad weather is an act of great courage.

Perhaps, the Palace hoped of some sort of endorsement for the leadership Aquino has provided the country. That might have strengthened the value of the expected Aquino endorsement of Mar Roxas as successor president. Roxas appeared at the planeside departure ceremonies for Obama, possibly expecting a bear hug.

Apart from praising President Aquino’s parents, Obama offered no praise for this administration’s (imagined) achievements. After the routine bilateral talks, the exacerbated state dinner and the meeting with the troops Tuesday morning, the only other thing on Obama’s calendar was to inspect an electric jeepney made by a Filipino-American joint venture.

The Palace must be disappointed, but then their own expectations might not have been realistically managed to begin with.

Gencos

After all the hoopla over a rather uneventful visit, we are back dealing with the usual things that torment us. One of those is the impending increase in our electricity bills.

For a while, we hoped that oppressive power price episode November-December last year would sort itself out and consumers might somehow benefit from dramatically more benign bills. The ERC finally stepped up to its mandate of protecting the consuming public and ordered a “recalculation” of prices that prevailed in the wholesale electricity market during those two months of confusion.

The “recalculation” presumes that the November-December pricing episode was highly speculative, precipitated by the tight power supply arising from the closure of several Malampaya gas-powered plants. The ERC’s “recalculation” formula, based on historical pricing patterns, would have reduced wholesale power costs by as much as 90%. If implemented, this “recalculated” pricing would have rendered the issues pending at the Supreme Court effectively moot.

The ERC’s order for “recalculation” was conveyed to the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC), the agency that administers the spot market. In turn, the PEMC issued new invoices to electric cooperatives and distribution utilities such as Meralco. Because of the Supreme Court’s TRO, however, Meralco received only the December but not the November invoice.

It might be too early for consumers to celebrate, however.

The generation companies (gencos), who stand to reap windfall profits from the speculative pricing, have challenged the legality of the ERC order to “recalculate” wholesale electricity pricing. That puts the price recalculation on hold. The consumers stand to lose in the long and complex process of adjudication that might be expected from this move.

The gencos have billions of reasons to stop the ERC “recalculation” order in its tracks. The windfall profits they stand to gain will simply evaporate. Strangely, among the gencos standing to gain the biggest windfall profits are those belonging to government. They are looking at the windfall profits as an opportunity to offset the large operating losses they incurred.

The legal challenge posed by the gencos against the ERC order is a disappointment for consumers expecting early relief from the abnormal power price fluctuations we experienced. The adjudication process could take weeks, months or even years to resolve. In the meantime, the burden of the unresolved pricing of the past few months hangs like a monkey on the necks of producers, distributors and consumers alike.

Ultimately, of course, the legal challenge posed by the gencos against the ERC recalculation order undermines the ability of the regulatory commission to discharge its mandate. Should the ERC finally lose the legal contest, it will be a disemboweled regulator — and the power sector will become a jungle where the greediest profits the most.

FROM MALAYA

WHAT DID WE GET FROM OBAMA VISIT? By Anonymous | May 01, 2014

Did we really get anything from the state visit of US President Barack Obama?

Former senator Joker P. Arroyo summed it in one word: “Zero.”

Arroyo said the Philippines only got “heaping shibboleths” from the US leader.

He said Obama should have at least cautioned China against being “embroiled in a shooting war” with the Philippines.

During his stay, Obama assured that the United States’ commitment to defend the Philippines is iron-clad (as stated in the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty) and that his country will keep that commitment because allies never stand alone.

Political analysts insist Obama seemed careful with his words as he does not want to antagonize China which is one of US key trade partners.

“Our goal is not to counter China,” Obama said in a joint press briefing with President Aquino in Malacañang.

He reiterated the US supports the peaceful resolution of the Philippines’ dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea.

Obama has said the US will defend the Philippines in case of an attack by another country.

But the territorial dispute with China is not covered by the MDT.

Was this the reason we signed the 10-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA which grants US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities, the right to construct facilities, and pre-position equipment, aircraft and vessels.

We do not see a Chinese invasion in a million years so Obama’s assurance that the United States will defend us from an attack is not bound to happen.

We are inclined to believe former Sen. Arroyo.

OBAMA AND MANILA: BEFORE AND BEYOND By Bernard Karganilla | May 01, 2014


By Bernard Karganilla

Obama of America should have attended this year’s celebration of the Kadaugan sa Mactan where he would have seen our arnisadors in action and learned that the Philippine Saga is one of military history, starting with the First Victory (that of Datu Kalipulako over Magellan).

He should have visited the Philippine Army Museum in Fort Bonifacio, thus, viewing the profile of the Pangulo ng Republika ng Haringbayang Katagalugan and the accomplishments of President Bonifacio’s descendants. Maybe next time?

Obama is now back in America, even as his hosts are left pondering their next moves in their neighborhood still bedeviled by terrorism, hegemonism and jihadism. With these challenges in mind, can we learn anything from the archives of the American presidents?

(1) Military bases have been a boon and a bane to both sides. “The traditionally close historical association between the U.S. and the Philippines mitigates, but does not eliminate, the problems inherent in the maintenance of any military bases on foreign soil. Despite the general friendly feeling the Filipinos have for the U.S., the operation of our bases has been and probably will continue to be a source of misunderstanding, and possibly even friction, between our two countries.” [Roy M. Melbourne, Acting Executive Officer, Operations Coordinating Board, “U.S. Policy toward the Philippines (NSC5813/1),” 03 December 1958]

(2) The utility of American military facilities in the Pearl of the Orient is simply one element in the security relations between Washington and Manila and in the Superpower’s broader regional and global interests. See, for example, Zbigniew Brzezinki’s Presidential Review Memorandum/NSC 14, dated 26 January 1977, addressed to the U.S. Vice President, Secretaries of State, Defense and Treasury, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations, Directors of the Office of Management and Budget and of Central Intelligence, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

(3) Not unexpectedly, the U.S. tends to rely more on its other Allies (NATO, G7, etc.) than on its junior partners. In trying to settle the Indochina War, for instance, “five-power military staff talks were held in Washington chiefly to impress the Communists, though some loss to relations with Thailand and the Philippines was sustained through their exclusion from the ‘white man’s club’.” [Operations Coordinating Board, Washington 25 DC, Progress Report on NSC 5405: United States Objectives and Courses of Action with Respect to Southeast Asia, 30 July 1954]

(4) It had been stood to reason that the U.S. would have “more impact in the Americas, Indonesia, and the Philippines than we had, say, in Russia.” [Marie Allen’s February 20, 1981 exit interview with Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinki, 1800 K Street, Washington, DC]

(5) Americans are proud of their record of counterinsurgency efforts in our region. “The military assistance we have provided to Free Asian nations during the past 8 years has, in most cases, been their principal salvation from Communist seizure from within. The notable examples of this achievement are South Vietnam and the Philippines...The suppression of the Communist Huks by the armed forces of the Philippines has become a model for dealing with insurgency. This would not have been possible without our advisory and assistance programs.” [H.D. Felt, Letter to William H. Draper, Jr., Chairman of the President’s Committee to Study the United States Military Assistance Program, 15 January 1959]

(6) Be that as it may, these Americans remain critical of their Filipino allies. “Recently, the Philippine Government and Armed Forces intensified their demands for increased military assistance. We have, in the past, brushed off these demands as an example of a country having a ‘champagne appetite and a beer income.’ This recent intensification of demands was motivated partially by the Taiwan situation. However, it was more clearly the result of a complete lack of understanding on the part of the Filipinos as to what we expect of their Armed Forces and what they can expect of ours in any emergency...A major handicap to this program is the disinclination of the Philippine Government, due to corruption, greed, apathy, and political and economic immaturity, to contribute more to the annual support of its defense establishment.” [H.D. Felt 1959 letter, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library]

(7) The United States strategizes for non-military competition against its global rivals like the Soviet Union during the Cold War. [Presidential Review Memorandum/NSC 42, dated 24 August 1978]

(8) The U.S. does have policies, scenarios, plans and other documents on a “World War III.” [Conelrad agreement, Office of Defense Mobilization, relocation planning, Federal Emergency Plans C and D-minus, etc.] These are samplers from the Cold War. How about the recent past?

More than a decade ago, Obama’s predecessor had welcomed Aquino’s predecessor to the White House where the two leaders noted with satisfaction the continuing U.S.-Philippine alliance and where President George W. Bush announced his intention to designate the Philippines as a Major Non NATO Ally, theoretically giving the Philippines greater access to American defense equipment and supplies.

Bush and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also “agreed on the need for a comprehensive approach to defeating terrorism in Southeast Asia.” [Joint Statement Between the United States of America and the Republic of the Philippines, May 19, 2003]

We wonder if the incumbent Chief Executives in Washington and Manila have also forged a joint comprehensive approach to defeating hegemonism in East Asia-West Pacific.

In any case, the status of Major Non NATO Ally, according to Bush, “puts the Philippines right up there with Australia, Egypt, Israel.

These are major non-NATO allies, which means it will be easier for us to answer requests on military equipment, to provide parts and equipment to make sure that the defense capabilities of the Philippine military are modern and the choppers fly, choppers are maintained, choppers move, when the President orders up a strike, it happens quickly.

All this does is facilitate the capacity to interact with each other on a better basis, on a priority basis.” [The U.S. President’s News Conference With President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines, East Room at the White House, May 19, 2003]

On another note, the most recent crimes committed by the jihadists bring to mind the comments made by George W. Bush in his turn as a Presidential visitor: “I think the Abu Sayyaf is serious. It’s serious because there are no rules when it comes to a crowd like the Abu Sayyaf. They kidnap. They kill. They maim. And there’s only one way to deal with them, and that’s to find them and to bring them to justice.” [Remarks Following Discussions With President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and an Exchange With Reporters in Manila, Philippines, Malacañang Palace, October 18, 2003]

Finally, Bush in his remarks to a Joint Session of the Philippine Congress in Quezon City, October 18, 2003, quoted the “great patriot Jose Rizal” who said that “nations win their freedom by deserving it, by loving what is just, what is good, what is great to the point of dying for it.”


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