Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Monday said he was concerned over the country’s sovereignty after the Philippines and the United States agreed to designate four more Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites.
In an interview, dela Rosa explained that while EDCA was beneficial in terms of responding to neighbors’ bullying, some Americans were not respecting the laws in the Philippines.
“Bubusisiin natin ‘yan. ‘Di natin basta-basta, we just accept that hook, line, and sinker. Sabi ko nga fifty-fifty ako dyan - 50 percent sumang-ayon dahil nga nakikita ko na that would form as deterrence against bullying coming from our neighbors. Maganda po yan. Nakikita nila na nandito yung Amerika ready to help filipinos when push comes to shove,” he said.
(We will look into it. We will not just accept it hook, line, and sinker. I don't fully support EDCA. I am 50 percent supportive of it because it would be a deterrence against bullying from our neighbors. They can see that America is ready to help the Filipinos when push comes to shove.)
“On the other hand, meron akong konting alinlangan d’yan pagdating sa ating sovereignty. Dahil pinapaalis nga sila dito noon, nasa teritoryo natin sila but parang hindi nila nirerespeto ang ating batas, ang ating soberanya. Ang sabi ko pag andito sila sa ating teritoryo, they should follow our rules, follow our law,” he added.
“Sumunod sila sa ating batas. ‘Di ‘yung may sarili silang republic within our own republic.”
(On the other hand, we have some reservations about EDCA in terms of our sovereignty. That’s why we forced them out of the country in the past because it appeared they did not respect our laws and our sovereignty. What I want is... if they enter our territory, they should follow our rules, follow our law. They should not have their republic within our republic.)
He mentioned the case of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who left the Philippines in 2009 after the Court of Appeals acquitted him of rape, overturning the 2006 decision of the Makati Regional Trial Court.
"Pag meron silang sundalo na nang-abuso, nang-rape o pumatay, dapat they should be subjected to our laws. Di pupwedeng kukunin na lang nila, iuuwi sa Amerika dahil sa kanilang citizen yon at meron silang exemption or whatever ang alibi nila. Di pupwede yon. Mananagot sila kapag gumawa sila ng krimen dito sa ating bansa," he said.
(If they have a serviceman who is abusive, who rapes or kills, they should be subject to our laws. They can't just bring them home to America and they have an exemption, or their alibi is it's their citizen. We can't have that. They have to answer for crime they commit here.)
Dela Rosa said the senators must be briefed accordingly by the Department of National Defense on these new EDCA sites so they can be convinced of its necessity.
“Yes, para ma-convince kami na ‘di kami hahadlang dyan sa EDCA na yan. We should be briefed accordingly,” he said.
(They should brief us so we can be convinced that we should not oppose 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.
The five current EDCA locations are Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu, and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City. — DVM, GMA Integrated News