With the Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States, former Senator Richard J. Gordon has proposed that the agreement should be used to boost the country’s economy and defense.

Gordon, who is running for Senator in the forthcoming May 9 presidential elections, said the Philippines should take a leaf out of Japan and South Korea’s book, noting that both countries have used the military bases there as their defense umbrella and as their stepping stone to acquiring first world status.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling that the EDCA is constitutional is very important. Since the aftermath of World War 2 and today, Japan and South Korea have used the US military bases there as their defense umbrella while they funneled resources to rebuild their ravaged economy to build up their society to first world status,” he pointed out.

“We must not repeat the mistakes of post WW2 Philippines when we failed to use the presence of US bases here from 1947 to 1992 to improve our economy and our military. Japan and Korea did so by initially using money that would otherwise go to defense for their economy and they succeeded to have not only a strong economy but a strong and credible defense capability as well. We must do the same,” he said.

Gordon proposed that the government should take advantage of the military alliance with the US to get preferential trade and not just to get aid, adding that the government should also wisen up by ensuring that freed up resources that would otherwise go to defense would be used to uplift the economy.

“With EDCA we must take advantage of our military alliance with the US to get preferential trade not just aid and also use freed-up resources that would otherwise go to defense to uplift our economy. More money must be freed up to prioritize the payment of higher salaries for our teachers so that we can build up better students who will eventually build a stronger economy. There will be more funds for health,” the former senator said.

“Ngayon may malaking ka-alyado na naman tayo, gamitin natin ang perang mapupunta sana kaagad sa pambili ng mamahaling armas, para sa mga guro, mga paaralan, mga ospital sa at ibat-ibang programang pang-kaunlaran,” he stressed.

However, Gordon also warned against being dependent on the US’ military presence and underscored the need to build up the country’s military assets.

In an en banc session held last Tuesday, the high tribunal affirmed the constitutionality of the pact that will allow the US to build structures in the country, store as well as pre-position weapons, defense supplies and material, station troops, civilian personnel and defense contractors, transit and station vehicles, vessels, and aircraft for a period of 10 years. The constitutionality of the pact was upheld amid an ongoing dispute between the Philippines and China due to overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

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