Galvez: New Edca sites can be OFW ‘evacuation points’ if regional tensions rise
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Friday said that additional sites under the Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) can serve as “evacuation points” for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) if regional tensions will require their repatriation.
“As part of our efforts to prepare to respond to contingencies, the four additional Edca sites are expected to serve as points for the evacuation of overseas Filipino workers in the event of a flare-up in the region’s flashpoints,” the officer-in-charge of the Department of National Defense (DND) said.
Galvez also said the Defense attachés have been working and coordinating with their host countries “on possible repatriation operations, which can be undertaken with our US allies, should the need arise.”
His remarks came a week after Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian “advised” the Philippines to just “unequivocally oppose” Taiwan’s independence “rather than stoking the fire” by offering the US access to Philippine military bases near the Taiwan Strait “if you care genuinely about the 150,000 OFWs.”
Of the four additional Edca sites, two are located in Cagayan province which is only about 800 kilometers away from Taiwan.
Edca is a pact signed in 2014 that intends to bolster the alliance of Manila and Washington. It allows US troops access to Philippine bases and to build and operate facilities in Philippine camps for both American and Filipino soldiers.
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.