”The EDCA can serve as a deterrent to any threat to our security,” Gazmin said during the Senate hearing on the EDCA signed last April 28 in Manila during the state visit of US President Barack Obama.
Gazmin said the Philippines can ask for assistance from the US troops if a Filipino civilian or military personnel is attacked particularly in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
”Under the agreement, we can ask the Americans for assistance if war will happen,” Voltaire replied when asked by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.
Voltaire, however, clarified that the US assistance will have to “go through a process” if the Philippines is attacked by foreign forces.
”By that time (the US assistance arrives), our ship is gone already. We want immediate action in our defense. How much will those processes take?” Santiago inquired again.
”It’s a long process madam chair,” Voltaire replied.
Voltaire also said the EDCA will energize the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) “that holistically seeks to address security issues whether external or internal.”
”In view of the foregoing and more effective and efficient implementation of our current defense cooperation practices with the US will definitely serve our security interest,” Voltaire said.
Voltaire said the construction and pre-positioning activities are provided in the EDCA during the joint military training exercises.
”Therefore, EDCA with greater clarity addresses the operational requirements for a more effective implementation of the exercises,” he said.
Despite the DND chief's explanation, Santiago believed that the pro-EDCA resource persons suffered a knockout from the anti-EDCA who said the EDCA should be submitted for Senate ratification.
”The DND, Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Security General are mainly arguing on the basis of theory. Meanwhile, the anti-EDCA forces mostly agreed on the basis of pragmatics of the issue,” Santiago told the media after the hearing.
Santiago said the legislative power has diminished when Palace did not submit EDCA for Senate ratification.
However, the lady senator admitted that the Senate cannot compel Malacanang to submit first the EDCA which she insisted is an “international agreement.”
Santiago said she will file Senate resolution expressing the sense of the Senate on the EDCA.
Meanwhile, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Supreme Court (SC) should immediately act on the EDCA issue.
”We can’t compel the Office of the President to submit it to us, because precisely, the issue is pending at the Supreme Court,” Drilon said.
Drilon said, if filed, Santiago’s resolution will be referred to the appropriate committee.
USS Carolina, a U.S. submarine, sits on the dock of the bay at Alava Pier, Subic Bay Philippines.