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Friends with Benefits: A Discourse Analysis on Framing US-Philippine relations in Print Media Through the Coverage of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)


This study examines discourse production in reportage of foreign affairs. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) had been reported just a month before US President Obama’s state visit to the Philippines, which marked another military agreement between the two allies. The media has played a role in deepening the public acceptance of the Philippines-United States relations. Essentially, the mutual decisions of states affect the welfare of the public, and the media is vital to let the public know of it.

This body of work discusses and distinguishes vested interests of stakeholders, the conflicting frames the print media chose to deliver in its reportage, and the representations of diplomatic concepts of friendship, peace and security in Philippines- United States foreign policy. The study ties together the use of critical discourse analysis, media diplomacy theory, postcolonial theory and framing analysis to unveil frames used by Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), The Philippine Star (PStar) and Manila Bulletin (MB) in representing these diplomatic concepts. It combines the results of coded print articles about EDCA from March 15 to July 29, 2014, and coded official government documents.

The study points out that (a) PDI used conflicting frames while PStar and MB employed non-conflicting frames in their reportage; (b) security is the main purpose for the birth of EDCA but friendship exists because of the long-standing US-Philippine history that seeks x to maintain peace in international relations; and (c) US interests in deepening ties with the Philippines are to advance its strategy of Asia rebalance, thwart economic growth of China, and counter insurgency in the South. The need for EDCA was rationalized in light of the Philippine-China territorial dispute that the US pursued to reinforce military strength in the Asian region.

Evaluating the power relations between the stakeholders is pertinent to achieve the study’s purpose of molding the Filipino populace as critical thinkers who are concerned of the society they live in.

Keywords: EDCA, US-PH relations, Foreign Affairs Beat, Critical Discourse Analysis, Media Diplomacy Theory, Transitivity Analysis

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