US to pursue more economic investments in areas with Edca sites – DND chief
MANILA, Philippines — The United States will pursue more economic investments in the Philippines, especially in areas where sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) are located, the head of the Department of National Defense (DND) said Friday.
DND officer-in-charge Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said this was tackled during the recent 2+2 Ministerial Meeting of the two countries held in Washington.
“The US side expressed that they will pursue more economic investments in the Philippines with the support also of the US AID socio-economic programs in the communities where Edca Sites are located,” Galvez said in a statement.
During the same meeting, the US disclosed allocating more than $100 million for the development of Edca sites, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
“This is the DND and DFA’s humble effort in ensuring that the President’s economic agenda will be successful for the betterment of the Filipino people,” Galvez said.
“With all these developments, the DND looks forward to exploring and undertaking more collaboration with our stakeholders towards our collective aspirations for our country,” he added.
The Edca, signed during the administration of the late President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2014, allows American troops access to Philippine military bases as they are also allowed to store defense equipment and supplies there.
Malacañang recently named four additional Edca sites such as the Camilo Osias Naval Base in Sta. Ana town and Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo town in Cagayan province; Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela province; and Balabac, the southernmost island in Palawan province.
Currently, 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 Edca sites are Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City.
The announcement of four new Edca sites came as a senior US general had warned of a conflict with China as early as 2025, most likely over Taiwan 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.