DND confident EDCA will be 'fully operationalized'
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - February 7, 2019 - 1:11pm

MANILA, Philippines — Following the recent launch of the first facility under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States, the Department of National Defense said it is confident that the deal would be fully operationalized.

Last week, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and US Ambassador Sung Kim led the ribbon-cutting ceremony of a Human Assistance and Disaster Relief warehouse at Cesar Basa Air Base in Pampanga. Philippine and US forces have held joint exercises on HADR operations in the past,

Defense Undersecretary Cardozo Luna on Thursday confirmed that future facilities in four other locations agreed upon by Manila and Washington under the EDCA are being considered.

"Anchored on the (Mutual Defense Treaty), as well as the Visiting Forces Agreement, the EDCA aims to enable greater interoperability, capability development and modernization between our armed forces by developing agreed locations," Luna said at a forum in Makati City.

The Philippines earlier agreed that the US can use five military bases where American troops and supplies can be stationed.

The five military facilities that have been identified were Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawa, Cesar Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro and Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu.

'Micro-problems' in implementation

Luna, however, admitted that there have been minor setbacks in pursuing the next EDCA project following the first one in Pampanga.

"We are considering all the areas for development and as of now there are some micro problems that we have to settle like arrangements with other government agencies," Luna told reporters.

Once these issues are settled, the DND can pursue the development of other EDCA projects as earlier agreed upon.

The EDCA was signed in 2014 but it would only be two years later that the Supreme Court would rule with finality that the agreement does not violate the 1987 Constitution.

"EDCA did not go beyond the framework. The entry of US troops has long been authorized under a valid and subsisting treaty, which is the Visiting Forces Agreement," the SC said in its ruling.

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