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SolGen: EDCA not a guarantee of US defense if China attacks

The country's Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States carries no assurance that the superpower will come to the Philippines' defense if China attacks in connection with the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea, the solicitor general said on Tuesday.

"There is no guarantee," Solicitor General Florin Hilbay admitted after Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio asked if the EDCA ensured US assistance in the event of an armed conflict between the Philippines and China.

It was the first time that Hilbay argued before the Supreme Court as solicitor general.

Under the EDCA, the US will be allowed to build structures, store and preposition weapons, defense supplies and materiel, station troops, civilian personnel and defense contractors, transit and station vehicles, vessels, and aircraft for a period of 10 years inside "agreed locations."
The solicitor general has repeatedly said that the new agreement signed this year "simply operationalizes" the country's existing treaties with the US: the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement.
However, Carpio cited the case of the Scarborough Shoal, a disputed area in the West Philippine Sea.
"We lost Scarborough Shoal in spite of MDT…. Are you hoping that the US will change its mind if China attacks us?," Carpio asked.
Hilbay conceded saying that the Philippines could only depend on itself when a state attacks the country. However, he pointed that it should not hinder the country to forge alliances.
"I don't want you to tell the world that we can rely on EDCA for our defense," Carpio said.
"We are not saying that the EDCA is the answer to all our problems. What we are saying is that the EDCA will improve our facilities," Hilbay responded. —NB, GMA News