Press Release
November 7, 2023


Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri on Monday allayed fears that the proposed Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) between the Philippines and Japan may result in abuses as he stressed that the military accord will be equitable and beneficial for both countries.

Zubiri gave the assurance two days after visiting Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio vowed to help improve the country's defense capabilities during his speech at the special joint session of the 19th Congress.

"I don't think we will have a problem with them when it comes to violations of our laws. That is why we have the RAA because that will now be the framework wherein they have to follow the rule of law when they enter the Philippines," Zubiri said in a television interview.

"This also goes as well for our troops who will go to Japan. They will also have to follow the Japanese laws because we'll send our troops there to train," he added.

The Senate Chief said RAA will not be one-sided and will be beneficial to both countries.

Japan's Self-Defense Forces will be training here in the Philippines, and so will the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard personnel in Japan.

Zubiri, who first broached the idea of formalizing the defense agreement between Manila and Tokyo, also clarified that RAA is not intended to allow Japan to put up their own military facilities in the country.

Rather, he said, the primary goal of the security deal was to provide guidelines and make it easier for the military personnel of both countries to train together.

"This is only for training. There will be no military sites and facilities like EDCA," Zubiri said, referring to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States.

"I don't think that was the idea. This is only like the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US," he stressed, adding that RAA will strengthen relations with Japan, especially in the area of defense cooperation.

According to Zubiri, it was only logical for the personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to train with their Japanese counterparts since 12 of the ships that the PCG is currently using are supplied by Japan.

"These are the ones na pwede natin ipang-tapat sa Chinese coastguard in the WPS because these are the larger vessels at 97 meters, they are almost 300 feet in length," Zubiri noted.

Tokyo, he added, had committed to provide five additional ships to the PCG during the two-day visit in Manila of Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

The Senate chief also expressed gratitude for Japan's donation of maritime equipment such as an early warning and control radar to the Philippine Air Force.

"And because of this trip, they agreed to add an additional radar system to our Philippine Navy. It is a coastal surveillance naval system that is more accurate and a bit more efficient radar system that can actually monitor even small boats entering our coasts," Zubiri said.

"We need their expertise in training for these equipment from them. RAA is really good because this will pave the way for a higher strategic alliance with Japan as our friendly neighbor in the north," Zubiri said.

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