Solon bats for more classrooms, hospitals rather than Edca infra
MANILA, Philippines — Instead of funding the construction of bases under the country’s Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) with the United States, a lawmaker said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) should have spent its budget for classrooms and hospitals.
During her turn to question DPWH at the agency’s budget deliberations on Thursday, Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas asked Secretary Manuel Bonoan if it is true that the department built the runway of the Edca site in Balacbac Island, Palawan.
Bonoan initially said that the runway might have fallen under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), but after receiving information from DPWH personnel, admitted that it was a project of his department.
Brosas asked Bonoan if the department was also behind a P18.32 million command and control center in Balacabac Island, but Bonoan said he would have to check this further.
According to the lawmaker, she is asking these questions because she believes the funds should have been used for classrooms and hospitals, especially since Filipino soldiers are not easily allowed inside Edca sites.
Brosas explained that Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) personnel can do inspections but only if the US side allows it.
In a statement after the hearings, Brosas said it seems like the government is showering funds to the defense sector when it should have been spent for social services — given the high prices of basic commodities.
Last April, Malacañang announced that four more Edca sites have been named, bringing the total number of military bases under the Philippines-US agreement to nine.