Palace won’t allow nuclear weapons in PH amid US defense pact
MANILA, Philippines – Talks on the Enhanced Defense Cooperations Agreement (EDCA) may be going smoothly but that does not mean that the Philippines will accommodate just any ship or aircraft from the United States, especially ones carrying nuclear weapons.
Malacañang has stated that any agreement with the US will be guided by the 1987 Philippine Constitution and other earlier treaties between the two countries.
Asked if the Philippine government will ban US warships carrying nuclear weapons into the country, deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte on Monday said the answer was “quite obvious.”
However, she did not say if the Philippine government has the capability to detect nuclear weapons.
Section 8, Article II of the 1987 Constitution states that, “The Philippines, consistent with the national interest, adopts and pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory.”
“We have been explicit and the panel is very cognizant of this, that whatever negotiations take place, any agreements reached will have to be under the ambit of the 1987 Constitution, as well as the existing framework of the MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty) as well as the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement),” Valte said.
A CNN report on the world’s nuclear weapons said the US has 7,650 estimated nuclear warheads, 2,150 of which were operational. Around 500 were assigned to land-based missiles, 1,150 to nuclear submarines and 300 ready to be deployed on aircrafts.
The EDCA, which already underwent an eighth round of negotiations, will give the US military access to facilities under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Government officials claim it will not result in a permanent US military presence in the Philippines but will help the AFP modernize its assets.
Militant groups already expressed their opposition to the EDCA and were mulling raising questions on its constitutionality before the Supreme Court.
Except for the general terms of the pact, the public remains in the dark on the details of the agreement.
“What I can tell you is that the explicit guidance of the President was to make sure that the agreement and the negotiations are conducted under—with strictest compliance with our existing laws,” Valte said.
The Undersecretary also denied that the increased rotational presence of the US has anything to do with the country’s territorial disputes with China.
“Perhaps at this point it would be up to the political commentators to make that connection. However, as far as government is concerned, we are centered on the mutual benefit that it will bring to both sides,” she explained.
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