Sen. Imee to Bongbong Marcos: Talk to Biden about possible Edca renewal
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Imee Marcos has urged her brother President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to discuss in his nearing meet with United States President Joe Biden new terms and conditions should Manila and Washington extend the initial 10-year term of their Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).
Sen. Marcos, head of the Senate foreign relations panel, on Tuesday said she has not spoken to her brother about his meeting with Biden in the US next week.
But if there’s anything she hopes for President Marcos to raise before his US counterpart, it would be the possible renewal of the 2014 Edca, which is only effective for an initial period of 10 years.
“Siguro magandang pagkakataon na magkaliwanagan tungkol sa Edca at umpisahan na iyong pagsusuri ng renewal, kung sakaling ire-renew iyong Edca…Since last year na siya, siguro it’s an opportunity to discuss a renewal, if we would like one, under new terms and conditions,” Sen. Marcos told reporters in a chance interview.
(It may be a great opportunity to clarify certain provisions in the Edca and begin thoroughly looking into its renewal, should Edca be renewed…Since it’s in its last year, it may be an opportunity to discuss a renewal, if we would like one, under new terms and conditions.)
The Edca, signed during the administration of late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, allows US troops access to select military bases in the Philippines. They can also store defense equipment and supplies in the Edca sites.
Sen. Marcos reiterated the need to revisit the Edca terms and conditions to make it more beneficial for the Philippines.
“Dapat naman ata may bayad sila para upahan ang mga base militar natin. Kasi iyon naman ang pakay ng Edca, kumita ang ating sandatahang lakas at higit sa lahat, ma-modernize [sila]. Paano mamo-modernize – tayo nagbabayad sa lahat? Pati iyong kuryente, pati iyong tubig,” she said.
(It is just right that they pay to rent our military bases. Because that’s the purpose of the Edca, for our military forces to earn and modernize. How can they modernize if we’re paying for everything? Even their electricity and water.)
Under the Edca, both countries “agree that the Philippines shall make agreed locations available to the United States forces without rental or similar costs.”
But it notes: “The United States forces shall cover their necessary operational expenses with respect to their activities at the agreed locations.”
Sen. Marcos had repeatedly questioned the location of four additional Edca sites at Camilo Osias Naval Base and Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan, Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Isabela, and Balabac in southern Palawan.
This brings the total Philippine military bases made accessible to American troops from five to nine.
Sen. Marcos particularly raised suspicion about the new Edca sites in Northern Luzon, which were a “stone’s throw” away from Taiwan.
China has since lodged a string of warnings to the Philippines, saying the additional Edca sites could drag the country into its dispute with the US over self-ruled Taiwan and further threaten stability in the region.
The US has firmly stood behind Taiwan amid threats of China to reclaim the island as part of its territory.
But President Marcos said China had nothing to worry about since the Philippines will not allow for its military bases to be used for any offensive operations.