No US troops currently stationed in Edca sites — Defense Sec. Teodoro
MANILA, Philippines — There are no American troops stationed in all of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Development (Edca) sites in the country, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said on Thursday during the budget deliberation for the defense department’s 2024 budget.
“At this time, I am informed that there are no US troops in any Edca site,” Teodoro told Gabriela party-list representative Arlene Brosas when she asked if there were any American troops stationed in any regions in the country.
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.
Brosas also inquired if the DND is spending any amount for the maintenance of Edca sites.
Teodoro, in response, said the agency will provide the details on this as he highlighted the importance of spending funds for these sites inside Philippine military bases.
“We will provide the [amount to the] committee but we really need to spend. If not, we will lose our independence,” Teodoro stressed.
“This is just assistance for us and if it is related to other geopolitical activities of the United States, I can say it’s not — it’s for internal hardening of our credible deterrent posture,” he added.
Pressed by Brosas if he could give a ballpark figure of the amount, Teodoro said: “The operational data is classified and we can give it in executive session.”
Brosas expressed alarm on these Edca sites and stressed that the country should not spend funds for these shared locations.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. approved four new Edca locations in Gamu, Isabela; Lal-lo and 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.
There are five other Edca sites located in Palawan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro City.