Senate to closely scrutinize Philippines-Japan pact — Escudero

Credit to Author: Pia Lee-Brago| Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2024 08:35:00 +0800

MANILA, Philippines — While the Philippines-Japan Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) may have already gained early support from some senators, it will still be subject to close scrutiny by the Senate before it gets ratified, Senate President Francis Escudero said Tuesday.

“We will scrutinize it like other treaties that the Senate is asked to ratify by the Executive,” Escudero said.

He said the agreement has yet to be submitted to the Senate for ratification. “I personally welcome this agreement because it will strengthen and firm up our position on the issue with China on the West Philippine Sea. But there is no substitute for beefing up our armed forces on our own. And while we’re not yet there, it is good that we have arrangements like this to strenghten our position and situation,” he said.

Sen. Nancy Binay said she would vote for the ratification of the RAA, as she called the deal a representation of the country’s commitment to peace and security in the region.

“Since 2022, former Senate president Migz Zubiri and then-ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko consistently pushed for the crafting of a RAA between the Philippines and Japan,” she said.

“The signing of the RAA is the fruit of the Senate’s effort for peaceful resolutions to maritime conflicts in the Asia-Pacific Region, an assertion to our territorial rights and a reiteration of the Philippines’ adherence to defend its national sovereignty,” she pointed out.

“The RAA’s value to National Security underscores how increased maritime security cooperation safeguards Philippine economic interests,” Binay said.

Sen. Bong Go said the signing of the RAA is in the best interest of Filipinos.

“The interest of the people, the interest of Filipinos, if it is good for the people, we will support it,” Go said.

For Speaker Martin Romualdez, the RAA is a “proactive approach in addressing security challenges and promotes a rules-based international order.”

He said the agreement sets “a foundation for expanded defense collaboration that is poised to contribute significantly to regional peace and stability.”

“The signing of the RAA signifies a crucial moment in Philippine-Japan relations, heralding a new era of strengthened defense cooperation amid evolving regional geopolitical challenges,” he said in a statement.

The landmark agreement, he maintained, allows expanded participation of Japanese forces in joint military exercises such as the Balikatan drills with the Philippines and the US, “marking a significant step forward in regional security efforts.”

He added an RAA is important in enhancing defense capabilities and fostering deeper strategic ties between Manila and Tokyo.

“The RAA highlights our shared commitment to regional stability and security, strengthening our defense capabilities and reaffirming the Philippines’ strategic partnership with Japan,” he maintained.

He said the agreement reflects the two countries’ “shared values of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.” — Cecille Suerte-Felipe, Sheila Crisostomo

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