No talks on additional Edca sites, says DND chief Teodoro
MANILA, Philippines — There are no discussions between the Philippines and the United States for additional Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) sites in the country, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said on Thursday.
“There was no discussion, no specific discussions, and … there is nothing on my table to increase the number of …Edca facilities on Philippine bases,” Teodoro said during a press conference at the Department of National Defense (DND) headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
“You can’t bite more than what you can chew,” Teodoro said. “We gotta make things work first before expanding [Edca sites].”
There are currently nine Edca sites in the country.
In April, Malacañang identified four new Edca sites — Camilo Osias Naval Base in Sta. Ana town and Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo town, both in Cagayan; Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela and Balabac, the southernmost island in Palawan.
Three of these new sites are relatively near Taiwan, which China regards as a renegade province.
The Chinese Embassy said with the new Edca sites, the Philippines could “get dragged by the US to interfere in the Taiwan question.”
The five other Edcas sites are 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; Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, the country’s largest military camp and a frequent location of Philippine-US military exercises, Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City.
Under Edca, US forces are allowed to rotate through Philippine military bases and also store defense equipment and supplies.
Edca is part of the country’s Mutual Defense Treaty’s (MDT) commitments.
Signed by two parties on August 30, 1951, the MDT states that both countries would support each other if an external party attacked the Philippines or the United States.