DND chief says 21 of 29 mayors in Cagayan back Edca
MANILA, Philippines — In Cagayan province, 21 of its 29 mayors support establishing two Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) sites, the Department of National Defense (DND) said, contradicting Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba, who asserted that the United States should not use the Philippines as it is only after its interest in Taiwan.
According to DND officer-in-charge Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr., one municipality in the province even mentioned donating a tract of land for the use of the Philippine military under Edca, a pact signed in 2014 that intends to bolster the alliance of Manila and Washington.
Edca allows US troops access to Philippine bases and to build and operate facilities in Philippine camps for both American and Filipino soldiers.
“As of now, 21 mayors have expressed their support, and we expect this number to increase, with one municipality even intimating the possibility of donating a tract of land for the use of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),” Galvez said in a statement Friday.
“Truly, the overwhelming majority of local chief executives in the province supporting our endeavor proves the Filipino people’s appreciation of the merits of EDCA, not only for enhancing our national security but for providing opportunities to further develop our local communities as well,” he added.
Two additional Edca sites are in Cagayan: Camilo Osias Naval Base in Sta. Ana town and Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo town.
The coastal province of Cagayan in the northern Philippines is about 600 kilometers away from Taiwan.
The US had warned of a conflict with China as early as 2025, most likely over the self-ruled island which Beijing claims to have jurisdiction.
China had cautioned the Philippines that it would be embroiled in the China-Taiwan conflict by letting US forces use its military bases, particularly those close to Taiwan.
Edca is part of the Philippines’ commitments under the Mutual Defense Treaty, signed by Washington and Manila on August 30, 1951. The treaty states that both countries would support each other if an external party attacked the Philippines or the United States.