Imee Marcos questions new Edca sites: Why a stone’s throw away from Taiwan?
MANILA, Philippines—“What is our fight with Taiwan?”
Senator Imee Marcos repeatedly asked this on Wednesday when the country’s security officials briefed senators about the proposed sites for more Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) facilities in the country.
She then asked Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. if the escalating tensions in Taiwan straits was the main reason why the four Edca sites are being eyed.
“Because if you look at the stated or intended sites—two in Cagayan, the others in Isabela, the others in Zambales and so on. It clearly indicates that this is the first line in the Taiwan attacks that are projected. Is that correct?” Marcos asked.
As Galvez was about to explain their justifications for choosing the locations, the head of the Senate committee on foreign affairs cut him short, saying she did not need a justification.
“I just want to understand why are you choosing all these sites in Northern Luzon when in fact if it were West Philippine Sea deterrence that is uppermost in our minds, the protection of our territorial sovereignty surely should be on the Western section not purely in the northern,” Marcos said.
At this point, the defense chief stressed that the four reported sites are still under negotiation.
“We might change the location depending on the agreement we might be having with the security sector,” Galvez said.
When Marcos pressed, however, to confirm if the additional Edca locations are indeed in northern Luzon, Galvez said they could not disclose yet but later admitted these are the sites for their balikatan exercises.
Still baffled, Marcos asked why the sudden shift of the balikatan exercises to the northern Luzon?
“Gentlemen, what is our fight with Taiwan. What’s our fight with Taiwan? I don’t understand?” the senator said.
“Why are we doing all the military exercises in Luzon a stone’s throw …away from Taiwan?” Marcos further asked,
Clearly, she said, the new expanded Edca “is addressing the escalation of tensions in the Taiwan straits, not the Philippine interests in the West Philippine Sea.”
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