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Nationalism’s eclipse: With EDCA, PH reverted to US puppet status

THE Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US, which President Benigno Aquino 3rd agreed to nearly 10 years ago and expanded by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has marked the eclipse and the reversion of the Philippines to puppet status.

EDCA, since it gave the US military nine military camps to use whenever they wanted to, is nothing but the modern, more efficient version of the American military bases that the Senate kicked out in 1992. It’s even cheaper for the US since it will not incur the huge overhead — the “mini-cities” to house GIs and their families — that the old type of American bases did. The US military simply moves in and out as it pleases with its equipment and war materiel stocked in those sites.

Chinese missile bases vs US missile bases? (Image drawn by author using Google Earth)

Two US client states emerging from the fall of the USSR — Bulgaria and Romania both in 2006 — first tested what American strategists called “lily-pads,” which the Americans needed to encircle Russia.

Hosting US military bases has been the ubiquitous feature of a country’s puppetry, as much as the ancient Romans to maintain their empire had their castra spread out in each of their provincia — military garrison towns protected by ramparts and ditches and interconnected by straight military roads along which their legions could speedily march.

The only country

In the whole of Southeast Asia, the Philippines is now the only country with US military bases. It isn’t coincidental that the five most prosperous Asean countries — Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam — are the most nationalistic, for different ancient or modern reasons.

The EDCA sites mean that we are now incontrovertibly in the cross-hairs of the People’s Liberation Army’s Rocket Force, whose missile with the shortest range (Dongfeng 11 and Dongfeng 12) could reach any of the EDCA sites and, of course, metropolitan Manila. China’s Dongfeng 41, the second fastest missile in the world with a speed of 30,600 km per hour, could hit Metro Manila in 25 minutes, with no US anti-missile weapon capable of intercepting it after it is detected to have been launched.

But is an all-out nuclear war that would destroy our world really possible? Read the novel “2034: A Novel of the Next War,” co-authored by retired US rear admiral James Stavrides, who knows what he’s fictionalizing about.

The novel is about a war breaking out between China and the US, triggered by an incident in the Spratlys, but was a plot by a Chinese general to take over Taiwan. The chilling insight of the book is that China and the US will stand down after the first nuclear strikes and agree that one American city will be nuked in exchange for one Chinese one to save the face of the two countries’ leadership. The thought, of course, crossed my mind that the sacrificed area could be a city near an EDCA site: we are the most expendable people to both the US and China.

US propaganda

US propaganda has portrayed the EDCA sites as mere hardy-used and remote Philippine military camps located far from civilian centers. Following their propaganda model, this is only partly true in the case of Naval Base Camilo Osias in Cagayan, Camp Melchor de la Cruz in Isabela, and the remote Balabac Island off the farthest point of Palawan.

However, EDCA site Benito Ebuen Air Base’s airstrip is actually that of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, the country’s second biggest airport. EDCA site Antonio Bautista Air Base uses the airstrip of the Puerto Princesa International Airport. In a war scenario, the US in the EDCA site Basa Air Base in central Luzon will be using the airstrips of its old Clark Air Base and even Subic Naval Base.

The US bases through EDCA are now even more militarily efficient than the old Clark Air Base and the Subic Naval Base. These US military posts are now spread all over the archipelago, from Camilo Osias in Cagayan to Balabac Island in Palawan. We don’t even know what the Americans have been building in these EDCAs, as these areas are highly restricted and do not allow visits by journalists. For all we know, they are building silos to house their missiles tipped with nuclear warheads.

It is certainly an irony of history that the sons of two Filipino archenemies who had a big hand in shaping our history — Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. and President Ferdinand E. Marcos, who were both betrayed by the US — had aborted what had seemed to be the final triumph of nationalism in this country.

Defense secretary

Aquino 3rd had the EDCA signed by his defense secretary, with the US side represented by the US ambassador to Manila, which designated five EDCA sites. Marcos Jr. increased the number of sites from five to nine in order to accommodate the American strategy that sites are needed in northern Luzon to face Taiwan, which it expected China to invade and reclaim by 2027.

The Aquino government signed EDCA on April 24, 2014; it had an “initial term of ten years, and thereafter, it shall continue in force automatically unless terminated by either party by giving one year’s written notice.”

President Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency on July 1, 2016 and adopted a policy of distancing himself from US puppetry, which gave nationalism an impetus in our country. Duterte quietly shelved the implementation of the EDCA. Since his and his followers’ support for Marcos Jr. was crucial for the latter’s victory in the 2022 election, many expected the new president would continue Duterte’s nationalist, independent foreign relations.

For reasons still unexplained today, Marcos totally reversed Duterte’s foreign policy toward the US and China. He undertook actions that challenged physically — but pathetically unsuccessful — China’s control of Ayungin Shoal and Scarborough Shoal and made many statements that repeated the US propaganda line that China was an aggressor in the South China Sea. In fact, Marcos practically acted as the US spokesman for the South China Sea disputes in his many state visits in Asia and Europe, as the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and its defense secretary Lloyd Austin were tied down in the unexpected bloody conflicts in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip.


Many observers had thought that Marcos would announce the termination of the EDCA upon the end of its first 10 years of effectivity on April 24, 2024. Marcos is now obviously unlikely to do that. After all, he has made the Philippines a US pawn in its Cold War with China.

Nationalism in this country has had a zigzag path. Defying the pro-American wishes of Cory Aquino, the Senate kicked out US military bases in 1992, thus dismantling this puppetry symbol, thereby energizing the nationalist movement in the country.

The West Point-educated President Ramos, known to have a pro-American worldview, was challenged by the Chinese when it built a small facility on the then-unoccupied Mischief Reef. That move was made in retaliation against Ramos’ breaking of an agreement that the two countries have to approve any oil and gas exploration in the nearby Reed Bank. In retaliation, Ramos occasionally would have Chinese fishermen in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal arrested and brought to trial in Zambales courts — although they would be quietly released after a few days’ time, depriving China of the opportunity to protest to the world.

His successor, Joseph Estrada, had an intuitive dislike for the US, partly because of his friendship with leftists and maybe because of a brainwashing of sorts when he was the leading man in the movie “Sa Kuko ng Agila,” which was about the abuses that US soldiers committed against Filipinos in their military bases.

Estrada, however, gave in to his military brass’ project to deliberately ground an expendable World War 2-vintage LSTs on Scarborough and Ayungin Shoals as a symbolic measure to continue our claim of ownership over those two areas. Estrada’s foreign secretary Domingo Siazon, who was close to him since their boyhood, however, wanted at that time to draw the country closer to China and free itself from US puppetry, and had the LST at Scarbrough towed back to its base and promised the Chinese the one at Ayungin Shaol would be removed in the future. A keen observer of the economy, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo drew the country closer to China in order to tap that country’s rising surpluses after two decades of dizzying pace of growth. It, however, triggered the massive US propaganda on alleged corruption involving Chinese-funded projects.

Aquino 3rd

Arroyo’s successor, Aquino 3rd, followed practically all of the anti-China advice of his very pro-American foreign secretary, Albert del Rosario. Duterte cozied to China, while Marcos Jr. has become as servile to US interests as Aquino 3rd.

Thus, the ups and downs of Philippine policy toward China and the US since EDSA, which in turn reflected the strengthening and weakening of nationalism in this country.

Marcos’ pro-US stance at this time, though, will be disastrous: The US is on an irreversible decline as the world’s sole superpower, and China, because of its economy and, ironically, because of its authoritarianism, will most definitely rise even only as the Asian superpower, while the US rushes to repair its weakened influence in Europe, as well as its own political unity within its borders. It’s uncertain, though, if a post-Marcos regime can resuscitate nationalism in this country.

About a month before the day, the Philippines can declare the termination of the 10-year EDCA, not a peep from commentators and even the rabidly anti-US-imperialism communists on the need to end it.

Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao

X: @bobitiglao

My website: www.rigobertotiglao.com

This Post Has 2 Comments


    To be frank about it, what future can a native nationalism hold if our elites, in the first place, have no confidence in our nation and folk? Their lack of leadership and initiative towards developing our country speaks volumes on the lack of interest (and loyalty) to the idea of a native nation-state.

    “Why identity with the stinking brown Austronesian-speaking natives”, they probably think, “if we can just squeeze money from them and stash it in the West?”

    That line of thinking, that disregard towards their own supposed people, can also be the reason why they are cavalier about putting a hundred million people in potential military danger.

  2. Dorina S. Rojas

    Marcos Jr. is not a genius as his father but I never thought he would be an idiot to lead our country to war and total destruction. I could only pray that God would intervene for the Filipinos and the other peace-loving countries. EDCA and EDSA phenomenon are the worst that ever happened in Philippine history. Marcoses made them possible, together with the other actors who made the Philippines the laughing stock of the world.

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