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28 April 2014

Amb. Goldberg: EDCA will not reopen US bases in PH

Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, left,
shakes hands with U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg
after signing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation
Agreement at Camp Aguinaldo, Philippine military
headquarters in suburban Quezon city, north
of Manila, Philippines on Monday,  April 28, 2014.
AP/Aaron Favila
After eight months of negotiations, both countries inked the 10-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Goldberg and Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin signed the deal hours before US President Barack Obama arrives in the Philippines for a two-day state visit.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg clarified, the EDCA will not reopen United States military bases in the Philippines.

“It will not reopen US bases. It is an agreement to enhance our defense relationships,” Goldberg said.

EDCA is set to enhance both countries defense cooperation and increase the presence of US soldiers in the country. It is supposed to increase training opportunities for Filipino and US forces, plus greater ability to respond to humanitarian operations.

“The agreement we signed today will be an important part of the existing MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty) and VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement) frameworks. But it will also serve to update our security alliance to meet the increasingly complex challenges of the 21st century, whether it is terrorism, transnational crimes, or disasters like typhoon Haiyan,” he said.

Goldberg noted, the largest bilateral military exercise, Balikatan, will kick off next week.

Meanwhile, Gazmin said the Philippines will have better access to US military equipment, supplies and personnel because of the agreement.

"It enables us to do more by making necessary equipment and infrastructure available.Alliances evolve, partnerships develop, engagements mature, but all through out, it is the shared trust to move forward together that keeps what is in place such as the MDT and VFA. This is the essence of a maturing relationship," he said.

He added, "The document we signed only manifests the defense relationship between the Philippines and the United States but equally serves as a framework for furthering our alliance as encapsulated in the Enhanced Defense Cooperation. Underpinned by the common goal being able to meet the security challenges that both the Philippines and the United States share in common, our alliance has continued to evolve as both our countries continuously search for mechanisms that would enhance our individual and collective abilities to face such security challenges." (ANC/Yahoo News)

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