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JV, Chiz reject China’s statement vs. new EDCA sites in Philippines

At least two senators have rejected the Chinese Embassy’s statement that more Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites in the country may “seriously harm” the Philippines’ national interests as well as regional peace and stability.

“I think they are the ones who are very aggressive and hostile…They claim to be a friend to the Philippines, but what they are doing is contrary to what they are saying,” Senator JV Ejercito said in an interview with reporters.

Ejercito, a member of the Senate foreign relations panel, cited the Chinese coast guard’s aggression against the Philippine Coast Guard as an example of China’s hostility.

“If they want us to trust them, they have to respect our sovereignty, our territorial integrity. Sabi ng DFA more than 400 note verbale na, protest. What actions have they taken? Wala naman eh. Babasahin lang, tapos isasantabi na,” he said.

Senator Francis Escudero, who is also a member of the foreign relations panel, indicated that China’s actions are already undermining the stability in the region.

“Isn’t what China is doing [regarding] Taiwan and the West Philippine Sea also ‘undermining the stability of the region?’” Escudero said in a text message.

“Bago nila pansinin ang dumi sa mata natin, dapat manalamin muna sila. We have every right, as with China and any sovereign nation, to pursue a foreign policy that serves our national interest and should not be cowed by such threats which I do not consider ‘friendly’ at all, and I thought they want to be our friends,” he added.

Last month the Philippines and the US agreed to designate four new sites in strategic areas of the country with the aim of accelerating the full implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the two countries.

Senate foreign relations chairperson Imee Marcos reiterated her concern over the possible use of EDCA sites by the US in case conflict arises in the Taiwan Strait.

“I think the more important question is, will the EDCA sites be used by the US to launch missiles, rockets or other attacks in case a conflict occurs in Taiwan? If these EDCA sites are used as staging areas for US military intervention in Taiwan, then we may be dragged into the so-called ‘Taiwan question,’” she said.

Meanwhile, Senate national defense committee chairperson Jinggoy Estrada said China’s “misgivings” over the designation of four new EDCA sites are "inevitable" due to the rising tension between the Chinese government and the United States.

“We are not waging a war against China. In fact, China is our trade partner. It is in our best interest to preserve and safeguard peace, and promote stability and security with the help of our neighbors in Southeast Asia. Any confrontation between two major powers could be devastating for the world economy. We remain committed to keeping peace and prosperity in the region,” he said.

The Chinese Embassy on Sunday stated that the United States is dragging the Philippines into its issues with China by establishing additional military sites in the country.

In a GMA Integrated News interview, US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson said she did not believe that Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites would serve as a “magnet” for Chinese “aggressive behavior.” — BM, GMA Integrated News