Obama pitches controversial EDCA

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U.S. President Barack Obama says EDCA will bring Filipino and American soldiers "even closer together."

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — United States President Barack Obama made a pitch on Wednesday (November 18) for a Philippine-U.S. military deal which was being challenged in the Supreme Court (SC) for its constitutionality.

Obama, who spoke to the media after a bilateral meeting with President Benigno Aquino III, said the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was in line with America's "rebalance" in the Asia Pacific which hinged on treaty alliances.

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He said EDCA would bring Philippine and U.S. military "even closer together" which would help maintain stability in the region and freedom of navigation — referring to maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

Last Monday, the SC did not come out with an expected ruling on the controversial security pact which would allow American soldiers access to refuel and store equipment in Philippine military bases.

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The Philippine Senate also came out with a resolution expressing a "strong sense" that without its concurrence, EDCA was a treaty prohibited by the Constitution.

Related: Without Senate nod, EDCA violates Constitution - senators

'Bold steps' in S. China Sea

Meanwhile, Obama also repeated his stance on maritime rows between China and the Philippines and other claimant countries.

Related: Obama: Beijing should not 'elbow' its way in South China Sea

He said the he spoke with Filipino military officials the day before and announced to them that the U.S. Would be increasing maritime security assistance to the Philippines to "record levels."

Related: Obama: U.S. to transfer two vessels to Philippine Navy

"We agreed on the need for bold steps to lower tensions including pledging to halt further reclamation, new construction, and militarization of disputed areas in the South China Sea," Obama said.