Marcos: New Edca sites to strengthen PH defense
The four new locations under the Philippines’ Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) with the United States would not be used for “any offensive action” but for “the defense of our territory,” President Marcos said on Monday.
The President gave that assurance when asked about Beijing’s concerns regarding the four new Edca sites—three of them a good distance from Taiwan, as the Chinese Embassy here and the Chinese Foreign Ministry both recently noted.
China rejects Taiwan’s claim as a sovereign nation after the communist takeover of the Chinese mainland in 1949.
The island has since developed into a separate democracy, amid China’s threat to retake it, while Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has recently sought to reaffirm Taiwan’s ties with the United States.
Mr. Marcos said: “The reaction of China [over the new Edca sites] is not astonishing because they are worried.”
“[But] if nobody is attacking us, they don’t need to worry anymore because we will not be fighting with them. What we’re just doing is to continue strengthening the defense of our territory, the defense of our Republic,” he said.
“We the Philippines will not allow our bases to be used for any offensive action. These [Edca sites] are for the purpose of helping the Philippines, when the Philippines needs help,” the President also told reporters during the commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) in Pilar, Bataan province, on Monday.
On April 3, Malacañang identified the following locations as additional sites for Edca—Camilo Osias Naval Base in Sta. Ana town and Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo town, both in Cagayan province; Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela province; and Balabac, the southernmost island of Palawan province.
The President had approved these locations in February, out of five areas earlier proposed in consultation with Washington.
Zambales—where the United States had maintained a naval base for almost five decades—had also been considered, but Mr. Marcos said at that time the province was not among the new sites.
On April 4, the US Department of Defense said the new sites were aimed at “regional readiness” to address “a range of shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.”
The five current locations under Edca, a 2014 agreement in line with the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between Manila and Washington, are Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City.
—WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH INQ
Sources: Inquirer Archives, pna.gov.ph