(MANILA TIMES) SEN. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada is hopeful that the reciprocal access agreement (RAA) being finalized between the Philippines and Japan will be compliant with international laws and norms to preserve regional peace and stability.
The senator said the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to the Philippines was significant and timely, especially in the context of the evolving global and regional security landscape. Kishida held bilateral talks with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and delivered a speech on November 4 at the joint session of Congress.
“While I look forward to hearing more about the RAA, I am hoping that negotiations will be handled with utmost care to ensure that it is in line with both countries’ national interests and security objectives,” Estrada said on Saturday.
Senate President Pro Tempore Lorna Regina “Loren” Legarda lauded Japan’s commitment to safeguarding Philippine territorial integrity through collaboration and partnership.
“We aspire to enhance the training and upskilling of our armed forces by forging closer collaboration with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces,” Legarda said in a statement.
Kishida said that during his visit to the United States in January, he expressed his determination to defend a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) as he mentioned the four pillars of the FOIP plan: uphold principles for peace and rules for prosperity, address challenges in an Indo-Pacific way, strengthen multilayered connectivity, and extend efforts for security and safe use of the sea to the air.
Kishida also underscored the significance of multilayered cooperation among allies and like-minded countries “in order to maintain and strengthen a free and open international order based on the rule of law.”
On the issue of the West Philippine Sea, the Japanese leader said that trilateral cooperation between the Philippines, Japan and the US is underway.
Estrada said an RAA with Japan could “enhance the Philippines’ defense capabilities through military cooperation and training, equipment and technology transfer, and other defense assets that our government may not be financially capable of acquiring.”
“Better economic and political cooperation with Japan can lead to increased trade and investment, benefiting the Philippine economy beyond defense,” he said.
For the past three administrations, Japan has been the Philippines’ largest source of official development assistance.
“This suggests a long-standing and strong bilateral relationship between the two countries in terms of development aid and assistance,” he said.