Senators hit China following EDCA remark

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 13 2023 07:29 PM | Updated as of Mar 14 2023 08:44 AM

MANILA — Sen. Francis Escudero on Monday lashed at the Chinese government for "interfering" in the Philippines’ foreign policy, specifically on its decision to expand the coverage of its Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States.

Escudero was reacting to China’s warning that the Philippines may be dragged by the crisis being faced by Taiwan for allowing its territory to host American forces under the EDCA.

“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,” Escudero stated.

Escudero said it is China that is “undermining the stability of the region” because of what it is doing with Taiwan and the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea.

“Bago nila pansinin ang dumi sa mata natin, dapat manalamin muna sila,” Escudero said.

In contrast to Escudero’s views, Sen. Imee Marcos’s said she was concerned that the Philippines may get dragged into China’s tension with Taiwan.

“I think the more important question is, will the EDCA sites be used by the US to launch missile, rocket 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 [it]," Marcos pointed out.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on the other hand stressed on the need to further study what’s in the Mutual Defense Treaty.

“Give attention and ponder over it. We should take time to review and reflect on the coverage of our Mutual Defense Treaty with the US. Under the MDT, did we hand over to the US the direction of our foreign policy?” Pimentel recommended.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada meanwhile is banking on the Philippines’ renewed ties with the US, which he said is expected to earn China’s reaction.

“We have a historical relationship with America. Apart from being their friend, we have a mutual defense treaty with them. Our Balikatan exercises are only exercises for the defense of the country and not for the invasion of China. We are not waging a war against China. In fact, China is our trade partner,” Estrada said.

For Sen. JV Ejercito, trusting China at this point is no longer wise given its long record of violating its commitments to the Philippine government with respect to the West Philippine Sea issue.

“They have already harassed a lot of our fishermen, so many times. Ngayon, pati Coast Guard natin, pati Navy, Coast guard ilang beses nagkaroon ng close encounters, they have been very very aggressive and hostile,” Ejercito said.


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