US Marines on board an amphibious assault vehicle participate in a Balikatan 2019 landing exercise in San Antonio, Zambales on Thursday, April 11, 2019. US Navy multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Wasp is seen off the shore. Reuters/Eloisa Lopez

CPP: New EDCA sites allow Philippines to be dragged into possible US-China war

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Sunday said allowing the United States to designate four new sites for the full implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and restarting joint patrols in the South China Sea leaves the Philippines caught between the US and China should a war break out between the two powers.

CPP Chief Information Officer Marco Valbuena made the remark following the recent visit of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III to the Philippines, which Valbuena called “part of the US government’s continuing strategy of preparing the war theater against China.”

“In doing so, Marcos is more and more allowing the Philippines to be used by the US as a launching pad for its provocations against China. He is practically allowing the imperialist US to drag the Philippines into a war against its own interest,” the CPP official said in a statement.

Valbuena added that by allowing the US to use the country as a base for its operations, Marcos was turning the Philippines into a target for China’s weapons, whether for aggression or counter-aggression.

Austin said Thursday that he and Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. “agreed to restart joint maritime patrols in the South China Sea to help address (security) challenges.”

The Department of National Defense (DND) had also announced a deal that gave US troops access to four more bases in strategic areas of the country, with the aim of accelerating the full implementation of the EDCA.

Signed in 2014, EDCA grants US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities; the right to construct facilities; and preposition equipment, aircraft and vessels; but rules out permanent basing.

The Philippine Constitution outlaws foreign military bases in the country unless covered by a treaty.

Valbuena said that the Philippines, along with other countries, should continue to prevent a potential war from breaking out between the US and China.

“The Filipino people, together with peoples of Asia and the world, must continue to demand a stop to imperialist war mongering and an end to war preparations especially by the US,” he said.

“They must demand the dismantling of all US military bases and call for the removal of US and other foreign military troops in the country, as well as the dismantling of Chinese military facilities within its maritime territory.”

GMA News Online reached out to Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs for comment on the CPP’s statement, but they have yet to respond as of posting time.

For his part, Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. reiterated that the endeavors they were undertaking were consistent with Marcos’ foreign policy of “being a friend to everyone and enemy to no one.”

“It is the DND’s mandate to secure and defend our sovereignty and sovereign rights, such as the freedom of our people to fish in our own waters,” Galvez said in a statement. 

“We also share the vision of like-minded nations in ensuring freedom of navigation and a peaceful, stable and free Indopacific.”

The Philippine Defense Secretary added that, as a member of the international community, the Philippines had a responsibility to protect the global commons in order to prevent humanity from constricting itself by ensuring that vital Sea Lines of Communications were kept open.

We must also promote responsible stewardship over our marine resources, which are being threatened by overfishing and man-made ecological degradation,” said Galvez. — DVM, GMA Integrated News

This article CPP: New EDCA sites allow Philippines to be dragged into possible US-China war was originally published in GMA News Online.

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