MANILA, Philippines - Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino cited yesterday the importance of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed by the Philippines and the United States in protecting the country’s sovereignty in disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea.
Tolentino spoke at the 116th Independence Day celebrations at the historic Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan.
Tolentino told The STAR that EDCA would have a big impact on the country’s attempt to maintain sovereignty of its territories in the West Philippine Sea.
He cited the rotating presence of the US armed forces in the country, noting that the US is still a superpower.
Militant workers belonging to the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), however, marked Independence Day with protests calling for the junking of the EDCA signed last April.
KMU chairman Elmer Labog said the forging of the EDCA exposed the country’s lack of independence from the United States.
“EDCA exposes the US' continued domination and control over the Philippines, as well as the Philippine government’s continued subservience to the US. It serves as a pretext for the deployment of US military forces to the country at a scale never seen after World War II,” Labog said.
He said the Aquino government has served the interests of the US and consistently stood in opposition to the Filipino workers.
Filipinos abroad also deplored what they described as Aquino’s remorseless subservience to US-imposed policies.
Migrante International urged all Filipinos around the world to join protests against increased US intervention and aggression in the Philippines and in the Asia Pacific.
Anti-US activists staged a rally near the US embassy along Roxas Boulevard in Manila to denounce EDCA.
Members of the Youth for Nationalism and Democracy said the agreement would allow US forces to occupy the Philippines instead of giving protection against China’s bullying in the West Philippine Sea.
Policemen blocked the rallyists who tried to get near the embassy at around 8 a.m. on the southbound lane of Roxas Boulevard.
The commotion lasted for about 15 minutes until the demonstrators were pushed back towards Rizal Park. – With Mayen Jaymalin, Aie Balagtas See