US pact will strengthen PH defense – Palace

MANILA  – Amid hard opposition by critics, Malacañang on Monday said it was confident that the recently signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) will strengthen the country’s defense capabilities.

“The agreement opens wider opportunities for developing our self-defense capabilities and strengthening maritime security and marine domain awareness at a time of evolving and rapidly changing global and regional realities,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement.

“These are vital elements in the continuing efforts of both countries to work in solidarity with the international community in attaining the shared goal of regional peace and stability,” he added.

The Secretary explained that the EDCA, which allows US access to Philippine military facilities, affirmed “the robust and enduring partnership” between the United States and the Philippines.

The signing of the EDCA on Monday morning came hours before US President Barack Obama’s first state visit to the Philippines, the last stop of his Asian tour.

US is currently working on its rebalancing act in Asia amid the rising power of China, which threatens its influence in the region.