China using Edca-Taiwan nexus as justification for WPS occupation very possible — DND chief
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said that there is a “very, very good possibility” that China is “exploiting” the supposed connection of Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) sites and the Taiwan situation as a justification to occupy the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“I believe that’s a very, very good possibility that the Edca-Taiwan nexus is being exploited as a cover for a lot of things, partly the real intention of occupying not only the West Philippine Sea but the whole South China Sea,” Teodoro said in a chance interview in Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela on Tuesday.
China asserts that it owns almost all of the areas in the South China Sea, including the WPS through its nine-dash line.
But the Philippines challenged this before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which later invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claim.
Teodoro said that the WPS situation should serve as a “lesson” that the country needs to develop its capabilities to deter threats to its sovereign rights.
He also pointed out that the building of Edca sites is part of the country’s bid to bolster its deterrent capability.
“These Philippine bases with Edca facilities are for us purely for internal credible deterrent posture,” Teodoro said.
“And not only here, we have to develop Philippine bases throughout the perimeters of the archipelago in order to secure our territory not only now but for the future.”
Aside from the Edca site in Gamu, Teodoro has also visited Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo, Cagayan as he embarked on a mission to visit all of the Edca sites in the country to oversee their development.
The Edca sites in Gamu and Lal-lo is among the four new Edca sites approved by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
The two other new Edca sites are in Sta. Ana town in Cagayan and Balabac, Palawan.
Three of these new sites — those in Cagayan and Isabela — are relatively near Taiwan, a self-ruled island which China regards as a renegade province subject to reunification.
These new Edca sites also irked Beijing, stressing that the agreement was made so that Washington could “encircle and contain China” which would drag the Philippines into “the Taiwan question.”
There are also five Edca sites located in Palawan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro City.
The Edca sites are inside the Philippine military bases in which the United States’ forces are allowed to rotate and store defense equipment and supplies.