New EDCA sites identified, Marcos gives hints on locations

New EDCA sites identified, Marcos gives hints on locations
Philippine Marines with the Joint Rapid Reaction Force conduct an amphibious landing utilizing logistical navy ships to seize a scenario-based objective as part of the Balikatan joint exercises in this 2016 photo.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines —  The four new sites that will be included in the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States will be "scattered around" the country and the announcement of specific locations will be assigned soon. 

In a press briefing at the Philippine Army headquarters on Wednesday, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said the locations of the four new EDCA sites have already been identified. However, the formal announcement is on hold pending agreement with Washington.

"There are some in the north, there are some around Palawan, there are some further south so these sites are in various, different locations," Marcos Jr. said in mixed English and Filipino. 

The chief executive said the new sites were chosen "to defend our eastern coast" as well as the country’s continental shelf. 

He also said that they issues with local government units who opposed the creation of the site have already been sorted out. Among those who protested against establishing an EDCA site in their province is Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba, who opposed plans even without a formal announcement of a specific site. 

"We explained to them why is it important that we have that and why it will actually be good for their province and it seemed like they eventually understood why it is needed," Marcos Jr. said.

Marcos Jr. approved the additional sites in February with the announcement made during the visit of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Manila. 

EDCA allows American and Philippine troops to train together as well as respond to humanitarian crises. With the additional four, total EDCA sites now stand at nine. 

Agence France-Presse previously noted that negotiations were ongoing for a fifth additional site

The five existing sites are located in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Nueva Ecija, Palawan, and Pampanga. Since the agreement was inked in 2014, the US has since allocated $82 million to implement projects at the five EDCA locations. –  Kaycee Valmonte

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