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The EDCA and the Philippines’ External Defense Capability Development

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR1, pp. 51-56


This research examines how the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) can further improve the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) external defense capabilities and improve the defense ties of the United States and the Philippines. A particular area where the EDCA can advance U.S.-Philippine military partnership is improving the AFP’s ability to protect the country from external military threats and adapt or effectively respond to a dynamic geopolitical environment. To be sufficiently up to such tasks, the AFP needs to drastically improve its military assets and materiel that focus on aerospace and maritime capabilities. Article I, section 1, subsection (a) of the EDCA on “Purpose and Scope,” mandates “Supporting the Parties’ shared goal of improving interoperability of the Parties’ forces, and for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), addressing short-term capabilities gaps, promoting long-term modernization, and helping maintain and develop additional maritime security and maritime domain awareness and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities.” While the agreement’s goals are set, there are still challenges that need to be addressed between the United States and the Philippines, such as different levels of commitment to the alliance as perceived by the leadership on both sides. This research highlights the importance of the EDCA in improving the Philippines’ external defense capabilities and strengthening U.S.-Philippines defense ties. Two issues will be examined: the challenge of developing AFP’s external defense capabilities and the under-utilization of the EDCA for such purpose.

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About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Philippines Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.

Santiago Juditho Emmanuel L. Castillo has an MA degree in International Studies major in Asian Studies from De La Salle University and a BA degree in Philosophy from San Beda University. The focus of his graduate studies is on Japan’s defense/security policies and strategies in light of the changing security situation in the Asia-Pacific. He is also interested in military capability developments and defense diplomacy. He currently works as a Research-Analyst and Executive Assistant for the Philippine government for the past three years. His research specialization and interests are warfare and strategic studies, traditional geopolitical security issues, military technologies, as well as foreign and defense policies of Japan and Russia.

Photo: The Philippine Coast Guard vessel Edsa (SARV 002), left, and the Philippine Navy frigate Gregorio Del Pilar (PF 15) steam in formation during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines 2013. BRP Gregorio del Pilar was a Hamilton-class high endurance cutter of the United States Coast Guard, before it was acquired by the Philippine Navy under the U.S. Excess Defense Articles Program and the Foreign Assistance Act. Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jay C. Pugh / Public Domain.