US, PH officials inspect Edca sites in Cagayan, Pampanga
PAMPANGA, Philippines — Military and diplomatic officials from the Philippines and United States inspected on Wednesday three identified Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) sites in Cagayan and Pampanga.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner Jr. and US Indo-Pacific Commander Admiral John Christopher Aquilino led the inspection of Edca sites in Cagayan (Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo town and Camilo Osias Naval Base in Sta Ana town) and in Pampanga (Basa Air Base in Floridablanca town).
United States Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson also joined the tour, which began in the morning and ended in late afternoon.
“We are happy with the rate of development these projects, the Edca projects, have been going,” Brawner said in Floridablanca, Pampanga.
The Edca sites are inside Philippine military bases in which US forces are allowed to rotate and store defense equipment and supplies.
The officials began their inspection in Lal-lo Airport where they observed the construction of storage facilities for ammunition, fuel and other supplies; as well as the headquarters building and the base operations building of the base funded by the Philippine government.
Most of the construction began in 2022, or a year before the area was named as one of the Edca sites.
During this activity, officials from both countries assessed what kind of assistance the US could provide in the ongoing construction.
The officials next visited Camilo Osias Naval Base.where a pier is being proposed to be built under Edca.
Basa Air Base was the officials’ final stop, where they inspected the rehabilitated 2.8 kilometer runway, where the painting of runway markings is ongoing.
The $25 million (P1.37 billion) project was funded by the US under the agreement.
“The advance of the runway and all of the sites is moving at great speed,” Aquilino said during their inspection.
Apart from the two sites in Cagayan, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. approved four new Edca locations in Gamu, Isabela and Balabac, Palawan.
Aside from Pampanga, there are also Edca sites located in Palawan, Nueva Ecija, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro City.
Meanwhile, Brawner said the AFP has also proposed several projects on the said Edca sites.
“There are several projects that the Philippine side proposed,” Brawner said.
“It will undergo a vetting process,” he added. “We have to make sure that all the money that we’re going to spend here is worth it.”
— John Eric Mendoza (@JEMendozaINQ) September 13, 2023