Association of military generals, flag officers back new Edca sites
MANILA, Philippines — An association of military general and flag officers on Friday expressed their support for the additional Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) sites in the country.
“The Association of General and Flag Officers, Inc. supports the establishment of four additional sites under Edca,” the group said in a statement.
The association also said these new sites will propel the modernization and improve the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to protect the country’s national patrimony.
“This initiative will not only enhance the interoperability of the two allies defense forces and accelerate the modernization and capability upgrade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines but will significantly improve government responses, like humanitarian assistance and relief operations to various emergency situations and climate-related disasters.
“In addition, given the Constitutional mandate to protect the national patrimony in maritime areas where we exercise sovereign rights our defense forces must continually enhance their capability to detect, deter and counter violators through sustained training and interoperability exercises with allies and partners that share our aspiration to abide by the ‘rules-based international order’,” the group continued.
In contrast, a number of local government officials and lawmakers expressed apprehension with the additional Edca sites.
The military previously named Cagayan, Zambales, Isabela, and Palawan as possible Edca sites. Notably, these areas face Taiwan up north (Cagayan, Zambales and Isabela) as well as the South China Sea (Palawan).
To date, there are five predetermined 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; and Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, the country’s largest military camp and a frequent location of Philippine-US military exercises.
The other two areas are Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City.
The Edca, signed in 2014 during late President Benigno S. Aquino’s administration, allows US troops to rotate through Philippines military bases and also store defense equipment and supplies inside them.