The recent news about people in Cagayan province gathering in a public park to ask the president
to reconsider the decision of the government allowing two military camps in the province as Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites begs for more understanding of the entire
situation as it relates to geopolitical ramifications around the world. A little background is also necessary in order to understand what EDCA is all about. The EDCA is actually a supplemental agreement in connection with the previous Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) established between the United States and the Philippines in 2014.

This is a military agreement that outlined the guidelines for the conduct and protection of American troops that visit the country and which also applies to Philippine troops visiting the United States. The VFA also became the basis for the regular military exercises between the military forces of the US and the Philippines which is known as the “Balikatan”. Going further into
the history of the EDCA and VFA we find that these agreements enhanced the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America, signed in 1951 and which “serves as a foundation for the close security cooperation between the two countries.” (https:// – with- the- philippines/)

So the EDCA is actually a result of and a consequence of the MDT made necessary due to the
ever increasing threats and expanding power plays exerted by both the United States and China who are now both trying to up-end each other in the global stage. At the moment the reality is the Philippines is in an agreement with the United States regarding the defense of both countries in the event that another State, say China, would invade the country or vice versa. The VFA and the EDCA
merely expanded that defense cooperation treaty to the extent that other interests of both parties can also be covered by these agreements.

The MDT, VFA and the EDCA are all bilateral agreements between countries that implement complex mechanisms and systems and involve comprehensive terms and conditions that would
make it difficult for say the President to simply change his mind on the EDCA sites in Cagayan as the protesting Cagayanos are asking. The reason given behind the prayer rally in Cagayan is the fear that the said sites are “clear areas where American forces will launch their impending war because of China’s plan to recover Taiwan” according to Clarita Lunas, retired regional supervisor from the Department of Education and a provincial consultant on education, and added as well that “What we are fighting is the establishment of two EDCA sites in our province,” and “It is the duty of our leaders to protect the Cagayan people from the hardship and suffering brought about by a potential
war between the US-China over the Taiwan issue.” (https:// 18/news/national/cagayanoshold-rally-vs-2-edca-sites/ 1887593)

While the concern of the Cagayanos is legitimate and valid it must be pointed out that their apprehension is grounded on a local perspective and does not take into account the reality of the
situation on the ground. If as they claim a war between China and the US is inevitable in relation to Taiwan then the Chinese government and its military would necessarily consider the Philippines as a legitimate target precisely because of the MDT, the VFA and EDCA. Why so, because China knows that the country has a military defense pact with the USA and even if there are no EDCA sites in Cagayan there are still various EDCA sites in different areas in the country.

And obviously if China were to degrade the military capabilities of the US in South East Asia they would certainly start by invading the entire Philippine archipelago and not just Cagayan. Further in a war scenario where China will start invading Taiwan to recover its so called territory and knowing
that there are US military forces and equipment pre-positioned in the Philippines it would begin
logically by launching its own military assault force at the nearest point of contact with our country which would definitely include Cagayan and other northern provinces nearest Taiwan, with or without the EDCA sites in those areas.

And after making landfall in those northern provinces of the country assuming there is no resistance they will begin offloading their war material and equipment to support their invading forces as they travel southward to degrade other EDCA sites in the country. In the process Cagayan and its people will suffer hardship and suffering similar to what will happen to their other countrymen in the country. This is the reality of the situation. Finally, by approving the MDT, the VFA and the EDCA we have made our choice, for the time being, as to which superpower we will support in case of an all-out war between the US and China.

Amianan Balita Ngayon