Junk Edca, militants challenge Duterte

THE League of Filipino Students (LFS) in Northern Mindanao challenged incoming President Rodrigo Duterte to junk the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) once the tough-talking Duterte assumes office on June 30.

Jennifer Gorgonio, LFS-NMR secretary general said the youth group believes Duterte can easily scrap Edca being an executive agreement.

The youth group also said Duterte should trash other 'lopsided agreements' involving the United States, such as the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, Mutual Defense Treaty, and the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Duterte had said he is willing to junk Edca and will prioritize the country's interest.

However in his latest statement, the incoming President said his administration is willing to continue Edca since the country’s external defense capability is weak.

Edca, which was signed by the Philippines and the United States on 2014, permits American forces to preposition temporary facilities in Philippine military installations including at the old Lumbia Airport here in the city.

The deal was questioned before the court by several groups but was upheld by the Supreme Court last January.

"Nagkahiusa kaming mga kabatan-onan to make the call nga babag gayud mi sa EDCA ug dili mi musugot ingani nga, kasunduan between our government ug US. Nag-ingon sila maka-augment sa atong military force pero if we look closely, gihinay-hinay kita nila ug colonize indirectly," Gorgonio said.

Although Duterte recently said he is okay with the agreement, Gorgonio said militant youth groups are counting on the incoming President’s self professed anti-imperialist sentiments.

The 10-year military agreement allows the US to access the country's military bases and in return, they will help the country in its defense modernization program, specifically on disaster prevention.

To intensify the youth's call, Gorgonio said they are set to launch a signature campaign which would involve churches and echo their call to Duterte.

"Iyahang tagaan ug tugon untana kini kay nakabalo man gyud na siya na very biased to the US government ang agreement," Gorgonio said.

Youth groups from Bukidnon, Iligan City, and Cagayan de Oro City joined the rally on Friday, May 27, at Magsaysay Park, Divisoria in line with the 17th anniversary of the Visiting Forces Agreement.
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