US, PH agree to four new Edca sites

US, PH agree to four new Edca sites

Flags of the Philippines and United States of America (FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines —The United States and the Philippines have agreed to four new additional Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites in the country, a move that was met with protests from progressive groups.

The announcement came in light of the arrival of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III at the Department of National Defense (DND) headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, for his meeting with Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

“Today, the Philippines and the United States are proud to announce their plans to accelerate the full implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the full agreement to designate four (4) new Agreed Locations in strategic areas of the country and the substantial completion of the projects in the existing five Agreed Locations,” the DND said in a statement.

Galvez, however, did not divulge the location of the four new sites as coordination with the local government units (LGU) in the said areas are still ongoing.

“We withhold the announcement of the EDCA sites because our protocols and also our diplomatic notes have not been completed. So we need to complete all the staff work, including our consultations with the LGUs,” Galvez said in a press conference.

But it can be recalled that military officials has already previously identified  Zambales, Cagayan, Isabela, and Palawan as possible sites. The sites are notable since it faces China and Taiwan. 

Furthermore, the United States has allocated over $82 million for infrastructure investments at the existing five sites under the EDCA, according to the DND.

Currently, there are five pre-determined Edca sites located at Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, which is closest to the Kalayaan Group of Islands; Basa Air Base in Pampanga, the home of the Philippine Air Force’s fighter planes; Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, the country’s largest military camp and a frequent location of Philippine-US military exercises, Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City.

Members of progressive organizations staged a protest at the front of Camp Aguinaldo along EDSA Ave. in light of the recent developments.

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said the country should not be allowed to be used as a “staging ground” for what the group calls a US military intervention in the region.

“Filipinos must not allow our country to be used as the staging ground for any US military intervention in the region,” said Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes in a statement.

The US is engaged in provocations with China using the issue of Taiwan. Allowing US to use our facilities will drag us into this conflict which is not aligned with our national interests,” Reyes added.

Labor union Kilusang Mayo Uno also called for the abolishment of Edca as they condemn the “subservient” foreign policy of the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

“We vehemently condemn the Marcos Jr. regime for its foreign policy, and its continuation of past regimes’ subservience to the United States,” the KMU secretary-general Jerome Adonis said in a statement.

The Edca was signed in 2014 to address Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea and respond to natural disasters.


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