Sen. Imee urges Edca caution: Limit number of troops, PH stay duration | Inquirer News

Sen. Imee urges Edca caution: Limit number of troops, PH stay duration

By: - Reporter / @BPinlacINQ
/ 08:30 PM April 11, 2023

Wary of the Philippines possibly getting dragged into a war among other nations, Sen. Imee Marcos on Tuesday pressed for limits in the number of United States troops and their length of stay in the country under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca). 

Sen. Imee R. Marcos Senate PRIB file photo

MANILA, Philippines — Wary of the Philippines being entangled in international conflicts, Sen. Imee Marcos called for restrictions on the number of US troops and their stay duration under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).

As head of the Senate’s foreign relations committee, Marcos expressed alarm over four additional Edca sites potentially turning the Philippines into a de facto home base for thousands of American soldiers conducting daily military drills.


“Kinakailangan siguro maglagay ng limitasyon para sa mga sundalong dadating [We may need to set a limitation on the number of soldiers that will come here],” she told reporters, noting that she had heard about more than 17,000 US troops that come to the Philippines under the expanded Edca.


The government has not yet identified how many US soldiers are to be deployed to the Philippines under the strengthened defense pact, but Marcos could have been referring to the number of soldiers that will instead take part in the largest-ever Balikatan military exercises between Manila and Washington.

Around 12,200 American soldiers, 5,400 Filipino soldiers, and 111 Australian soldiers will be involved in the annual war games between the US and the Philippines.

Limit stay of US troops

Marcos further said that putting a cap on the length of stay of US troops in the country under Edca is likewise necessary.

“Siguro dapat may limitasyon sa numero, may limitasyon din – kumbaga sa visa, iyong three-month visa o 90-day visa – para maliwanag na hindi talaga sila nakapirmi rito sa atin at Pilipino pa rin ang sundalong naninirahan sa iba’t ibang kampo,” she said.

(Maybe there should be a limitation on the number. The limitation on how long they’ll be staying here should likewise be clarified – as it is being done in three-month or 90-day visas – to ensure they are not here permanently and that it would still be Filipino soldiers living in our camps.)

Marcos noted that there should be clear provisions in the Edca, which explicitly state that the Philippines should not be caught between warring nations, mainly if the dispute does not involve the country.


“Kinakailangan na maliwanag, nakatakda sana sa Edca lahat ng safeguards upang ang Pilipinas ay hindi madamay sa giyera na wala naman tayong kinalaman,” she added.

(The safeguards so the Philippines won’t be dragged into a war we’re not involved in  should be clearly stated in the Edca.)

The legislator then said it is a cause of fear should tensions escalate due to the augmented number of Edca sites, saying the Philippines is unprepared to participate in a war.

READ:  Deeper defense ties with US: What it means for PH 

“Iyon ang kinakakatakutan [natin]. We have no bomb shelters, no underground camps, no anti-missile forces, no anti-aircraft. In short, wala tayong gamit o proteksyon,” she said.

(That’s what we’re scared of. We have no bomb shelters, no underground camps, no anti-missile forces, no anti-aircraft. In short, we don’t have equipment or protection.)

President Marcos has previously said that the four recently identified locations under Edca would not be used for “any offensive action” but for the “defense of our territory.”

READ: Marcos: New Edca sites to strengthen PH defense

China has since noted that three of the four additional Edca sites are near Taiwan, which Beijing claims and threatens to retake by force if necessary.

The US has strongly backed the democratically governed island in the dispute, further straining its relations with Beijing.

‘Filipinos should stop being too soft’

Sen. Robin Padilla said that the Edca site expansion would only bring trouble if the US forces use the locations to stage offensive attacks against China, subsequently dragging the Philippines into the middle of their brewing conflict.

“Dapat nating siguraduhin na ang gobyerno natin ay hindi papayag na maging staging point tayo ng opensa kung magkakaroon ng [US at] Taiwan [versus] China conflict. Siguraduhin natin na depensa lang tayo. Kaya maging handa. Tigilan na muna ang pagiging malambot at pa-baby ng mga Pinoy,” he told reporters in a message.

(We need to ensure that our government will not allow us to be the staging point for their offense should the US and Taiwan conflict with China. We need to make sure we’re just here for defense. So we have to be ready. I hope Filipinos stop being too soft and very much accommodating.)

Padilla also took the chance to push further the bid for the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps program, noting that this would help the Philippines prepare not just in case of war but also if the need arises given the times.


China: New Edca sites to ‘seriously harm’ PH

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Marcos firm on new Edca sites amid China warning

TAGS: abuse, EDCA, Imee Marcos, Senate, United States

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