DND: 5 EDCA bases to enhance PH defense, disaster response
MANILA — The selection of five Philippine bases to be utilized in the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement will increase the military’s capability for maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster response, according to the Department of National Defense.
The DND has welcomed the development, noting that at last, the EDCA has reached the final stages of preparation for full implementation.
DND spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez said the agency was “greatly pleased that the hard work put into by both parties has reached this milestone of an outcome.”
“This would greatly advance our capabilities not only for maritime security, as we train together, but more importantly, our humanitarian assistance and disaster response capacity,” Galvez said on Sunday.
Over the weekend, the Philippines and the United States announced the five bases where American forces would have access to under the EDCA, including one near the disputed South China Sea region.
These locations are the Antonio Bautista Air Base in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, which faces the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea; the Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro; the Basa Air Base in Pampanga; Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija; and the Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu.
The announcement was made after strategic talks in Washington between the two countries over the weekend.
An agreement was reached that the four air bases and one military reservation would be used for the deployment of U.S. forces under the EDCA.
During the talks, both sides expressed firm opposition to China’s aggressive militarization in the South China Sea, which has escalated tension among the claimant countries, including the Philippines.
The 10-year EDCA was signed by the US and Philippine officials in 2014 and immediately questioned by groups before the Supreme Court but it was declared constitutional by the high tribunal last January.
Galvez said the finalization of the five locations was discussed by both sides, noting that several military installations were considered previously as possibilities.
“We are happy that the five locations have been finally agreed upon… We can say that the EDCA is now in its final stages of implementation now that the agreed locations have been identified,” the DND spokesperson said.
He added that the U.S. troops would be allowed to construct or upgrade the existing facilities in the said military installationswithin 10 years based on the EDCA. SFM
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