EDCA helpful to PH in S. China Sea row - retired U.S. admiral

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Filipino and American soldiers during a joint military exercise

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Former U.S. Pacific Command chief Admiral Samuel Locklear said on Thursday (December 10) that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) would boost the country's defense capability, should the Supreme Court (SC) declare it constitutional.

Related: SC delays ruling on EDCA ahead of Obama arrival

Locklear said EDCA would be helpful in providing better military capability as the Philippines confronts China's aggression in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Related: Obama pitches controversial EDCA

Aside from increased rotational presence of U.S. forces, Locklear said upgrade of existing Philippine military facilities, like airport runways and harbors, would be possible through EDCA.

"It is in our national interest to have a peaceful, prosperous Philippines, to have a stable security environment — including maritime domain, air domain..." Locklear said.

Related: Without Senate nod, EDCA violates Constitution - senators

A report of U.S. think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) entitled "Building a More Robust US-Philippines Alliance" recommends the cooperation of the two countries on the development of a long-term South China Sea plan.

The report says both countries have been reacting to incidents in the disputed areas semi-permanently and an overarching long-term strategy is necessary.

For his part, analyst Dindo Manhit says if only EDCA was not contested before the Supreme Court, there could have been improvements in the capacity building of the Philippine military.

Manhit says building a stronger alliance with the United States is necessary especially now, so China will stop bullying the Philippines in the South China Sea.

Related: U.S. can do more for PH than 'token' aid - analyst

EDCA was signed in April 2014 and the SC has yet to decide on its constitutionality.

CNN Philippines' Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.