MANILA - Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reiterated on Tuesday his position on the non-guarantee under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) that the United States (US) shall come to the aid of the Philippines should tensions continue to escale, or escalate further, between the Philippines and China over territorial rows in the West Philippine Sea.
Interpellating acting Solicitor General Florin Hilbay during the continuation of oral arguments on consolidated petitions assailing the constitutionality of the agreement, Carpio pointed out that the US, at the height of the Philippines' dispute with China over the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, had announced its policy of not meddling into territorial rows despite its [US] commitment under the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) that it shall come to the aid of the Philippines in times of armed conflict with a third state.
Carpio thus said that while government has cited the West Philippine Sea disputes as one of the reasons for inking the EDCA with the US, there really is no guarantee under the agreement that the US will come to the aid of the Philippines in the event of escalated tensions or armed conflicts in connection with the territorial rows.
"The US has, time and again, said that they do not take sides in territorial disputes. In 2012, China seized Scarborough Shoal; the US said 'that's not covered by the MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty). It really depends on America whether they want to come in or not, so what is the value of this EDCA if there is no guarantee of assistance?
"In other words, EDCA will help us improve our facilities but it does not give us any guarantee that when there is an armed attack, the US will come to our aid," Carpio said.
To these observations, Hilbay said the Philippines, amid its resource limitations, has to explore avenues to improve its military capability and "do what it can, and hope for the best."