Philippine Asian News Today | FILIPINO Canada News Vancouver | Calgary | Edmonton

US pushes EDCA, hikes military aid

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said yesterday EDCA, held up for more than a year since it was signed with the Philippines, is also in the interest of the US to be more present in the region.

Washington is hopeful the Supreme Court would  hand down a favorable decision on the defense agreement, he said.

The Philippines is set to receive a “high amount” of foreign military funding in 2016 after receiving $79 million in bilateral assistance from the US this year, Goldberg said in an interview on ANC’s Headstart.

US President Barack Obama has promised that a big part of $140 million in foreign military funding in the region in 2016 will go to the Philippines.

“We have upped our foreign military funding for the Philippines. It will be somewhere in the range of $79 million this year. It was originally targeted at $50 million. It’s increasing and what has been proposed is something called maritime security initiative in the region,” Goldberg said.

“Our ability to help the Philippines (is also tied to EDCA),” the ambassador said when asked if the US support to the Philippines would be affected should SC rule against it.

“While it has some bearing on the general situation in the region, we have a Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT),  and that is the basis for our relationship and for our mutual defense ties.”

Goldberg stressed that EDCA is in the mutual security interest of both countries.

Under the EDCA, he said the US proposed that there would be more cooperation in maritime security, noting, “it is an issue that has emerged as a new interest and a new challenge for the Philippine armed forces.”

The US, he said, would also be able to supply equipment and have some rotational forces “all on sovereign Philippine territory,” not bases.

“We are on solid ground in terms of what we are trying to achieve. I’m not saying it is just in the interest of the Philippines. It is also in the interest of the United States to be more present in the region and under the rebalance, one of the goals was to help our allies build their own capabilities and that is what we are trying to do under EDCA,” he added.

With constitutional and legal issues raised, Goldberg said, “we hope that there will be decision soon.”(P. LiaBrago, PS)