The Philippine Supreme Court on Jan. 12 declared as constitutional a defense pact that allows American forces, warships and planes to temporarily base in local military camps, in a boost to U.S. efforts to reassert its presence in Asia as China rises to regional dominance.
Ten of the 15 members of the high court also ruled that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which was signed by U.S. and Philippine officials in 2014 and has a 10-year lifespan, is an executive agreement that does not need Senate approval, court spokesman Theodore Te said.
The ruling will bolster U.S. efforts to reassert its presence in Asia and dovetails with Philippine efforts to harness America’s help in addressing what it perceives as China’s aggressive acts in the disputed South China Sea.
Washington immediately welcomed the court’s decision, saying the defense pact is a mutually beneficial accord that will bolster both countries’ ability to respond to disasters and strengthen the Philippine military.
Left-wing activists said they would consider filing an appeal, adding that U.S. military presence won’t solve the country’s current worries over China in the disputed waters.
The Philippines has turned to Washington as it scrambled to strengthen its military, one of the most ill-equipped in Asia, to deal with an increasingly assertive China in the South China Sea.
The long-simmering disputes involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have escalated in recent years. Tensions have been especially high since Beijing transformed seven disputed reefs into islands on which it is now constructing runways and facilities that rival claimants say can be used militarily in an already very tense region.
Source and image: Asahi