Saturday, January 16, 2016

Philippine Supreme Court Clears the Way for Bigger U.S. Military Role

The Philippines’ top court cleared the way for U.S. troops to deploy to the Southeast Asian country, approving a contested defense pact that stands to enhance American power in the region at a time when China is asserting itself more forcefully.
Tuesday’s ruling ended months of speculation about the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, designed to revitalize the 65-year-old U.S.-Philippine alliance two decades after American forces pulled out of the country. The 2014 pact had been stalled for nearly two years by a legal challenge.
The Supreme Court’s 10-4 decision came hours before U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry held security talks with their Philippine counterparts Voltaire Gazmin and Albert Del Rosario in Washington.
Both countries welcomed the ruling. Mr. Carter said it gives the U.S. new opportunities to work with the Philippines on maritime security.
The goals of the defense accord include “freedom of navigation and freedom of the commons,” Mr. Carter said. “The United States has indicated our intention to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, whether it be the South China Sea or anywhere else around the world.”
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