PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Contributed Photo
Political analyst Romulo “Bobby” Tuazon said on Saturday that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. could be held accountable in the event the Philippines was dragged into the Taiwan Strait conflict resulting from the country’s hosting of more American military installations under its Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States.
“I don’t believe in the statement of Bongbong Marcos that the EDCA sites will not be used against China because, in fact, he also said that if the Philippines needed help then the EDCA sites can be used, which means that any time those sites can be used not only over the tensions in the Taiwan Strait against China but also the maritime disputes in the South China Sea also against China,” Tuazon said in The Alphan Forum.
“So, it is possible that Marcos will not only be in violation of the One China policy, but he can be made accountable for violating the constitutional provision providing for an independent foreign policy because this whole fact right now is a pivot to the US, in contrast to the previous friendly pivot to China adopted by the Duterte administration,” he added.
Tuazon, director for policy studies of Center for People Empowerment in Governance, called on the Philippine government to review its “pro-US policy” to avoid repeating the mistakes that have been made in the past.
“With the increasing presence again of military forces in the Philippines, I will not be surprised if the same atrocities that were committed against Filipino civilians in the light of the presence of the military bases of the US before will be repeated soon,” he said.
“So that is, in fact, a call for the Philippine government officials to rethink and review its pro-US policy,” Tuazon added.
Signed in 2014, EDCA grants US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities, build facilities, as well as pre-position their equipment, aircraft and vessels.
Permanent basing is prohibited.
The five current locations of US military installations under EDCA are Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija; Basa Air Base in Pampanga; Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan; Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu; and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City.
The new EDCA sites approved under Marcos will be established at the Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana, Cagayan; Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo, Cagayan; Camp Melchor F. Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela; and Balabac Island in Palawan.
Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian remains hopeful that the Philippines and China will continue to peacefully coexist.
“Indeed, there are differences between China and the Philippines on the South China Sea issue. However, as neighbors across a narrow strip of water, relations between China and the Philippines are more defined by peaceful coexistence for over a thousand years and will continue to be so in the future. Friendship is always the main stream of our bilateral relations,” Huang said during the 8th Manila Forum for Philippines-China Relations at the Astoria Plaza Hotel in Pasig City on Friday, April 14.
“We each have our respective claims and positions regarding the South China Sea. Differences thereof should be resolved by parties directly involved through dialogues and with mutual respect. That is why China is committed to strengthening dialogue mechanisms between us,” he added.