Senate sea change

February 6, 2023 People's Tonight 298 views

THE Senate is historically leery of foreign engagements by the Executive department.

Well, it is actually just sticking to form – the chamber has exclusive oversight powers over foreign policy.

Getting them passed or approved was almost like going through the eye of the needle.

For so many times in the past, administrations considered the Sante a gauntlet for their respective international forays

But a tectonic shift has occurred in the institutional attitude of the chamber towards foreign relations.

Thus, Department of National Defense officer-in-charge Carlito Galvez Jr. lauded three senators for expressing their support to the move of the Philippines and the United States to designate four more locations as Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement sites and conduct more joint maritime patrols.

“On behalf of the DND, I sincerely thank our lawmakers for expressing their support for EDCA and the resumption of joint PH-US maritime patrols,” Galvez said.

He said it is encouraging for the DND to know that lawmakers are aware of the importance of EDCA and joint maritime patrols to the national interest.

He was referring to the favorable sentiments shared by Senators Francis Tolentino, Francis Escudero, and Sherwin Gatchalian on these favorable defense and security developments last week.

Tolentino was earlier quoted as saying: “I am in favor of defense/security cooperation ‘upgrades’ with reliable allies like the US, considering the evolving regional conditions and challenges, so long as this is anchored on solid constitutional foundations and for the greater interests of the nation and EDCA is evidently a good model.”

Escudero said there is no reason for the country not to continue its joint patrols with the US considering that America has been the country’s ally since the late 1940s.

He also stressed that joint patrols would help reduce encroachments and acts of harassment in the area.

Meanwhile, Gatchalian said that joint patrols and other cooperative military activities with the US would enhance military interoperability between the two countries.

He also stressed that these activities are not limited to combat operations but also cover disaster preparedness efforts.

Galvez also expressed hope that local government units realize that the EDCA is not just about security.

“We enjoin them to look into the potential foreign investments and economic development that EDCA sites will bring to their communities as well as the enhancement of the protection of our areas that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the quicker disaster response and mitigation if our front-liners are called to action,” he added.

The DND OIC stressed that these efforts being done to boost the country’s capabilities are consistent with the President’s foreign policy of being a friend to everyone and an enemy to no one.

“It is truly encouraging that our distinguished senators are aware of the importance of EDCA and joint maritime patrols to our national interest. I thank them again for their support,” he added.

Also, Galvez said the country shares the vision of like-minded nations in ensuring freedom of navigation and a peaceful, stable and free Indo-Pacific.

“As a member of the international community, we have a responsibility to protect the global commons in order to prevent humanity from constricting itself by ensuring that vital sea lines of communications are kept open. We must also promote responsible stewardship over our marine resources which are being threatened by overfishing and man-made ecological degradation,” he added.