Gibo, AFP top brass visit EDCA sites in Isabela

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
Gibo, AFP top brass visit EDCA sites in Isabela
Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. holds his first press briefing as the newly appointed secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND) in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on June 07, 2023.
STAR / Ernie Penaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — Continuing his scheduled tour of Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites and military bases across the country, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro visited several facilities in Isabela earlier this week.

He and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. were joined by Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) Commander Lt. Gen. Fernyl Buca at the Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Upi, Gamu, Isabela on Aug. 15.

The EDCA site facilities inspected include a warehouse, a Command and Control Fusion Center, and the 5th Division Training School of the 5th Infantry Division (ID) of the Philippine Army.

“The successful completion of this visit reinforces the commitments made by both nations to bolster their defense cooperation and regional stability through the EDCA framework,” Buca said in a statement.

“The visit provided the country’s top defense officials with an invaluable firsthand experience of the progress achieved through collaborative efforts,” he added.

Earlier this month, Teodoro also joined Brawner and Buca in supervising the Philippines-US joint Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations at another EDCA site in Lal-lo, Cagayan.

Also present during the visit were Brig. Gen. Rocky Binag, wing commander of Tactical Operations Wing Northern Luzon, and Brig. Gen. Danilo Benavides, assistant division commander of the 5th ID.

“EDCA is key to our national interests, as it modernizes our alliance with the US, enhancing our disaster preparedness and response capabilities. It strengthens our maritime domain awareness and security while providing basing for our current and future assets,” Buca said.

“The EDCA sites play a crucial role in facilitating joint operations during natural or man-made emergencies. The urgent need to fast-track the construction of facilities within the EDCA sites is in response to the exigencies of HADR requirements,” he said.

The DND announced last week that Teodoro will be going around the country visiting EDCA sites, including four new recently named locations, as well as military bases.

The first five EDCA sites where the US military have access are Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija; Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan; Basa Air Base in Pampanga; Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro and the Benito Ebuen Air Base in Mactan, Cebu.

Earlier this year, the Philippines and the US agreed to add four more – the Naval Base Camilo Osias in Sta Ana, Cagayan; Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo, Cagayan; Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela and Balabac Island in Palawan.


The Philippine Air Force (PAF) joined the US Air Force and other visiting foreign air force units in an airdrop exercise in the skies of Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija on Tuesday.

The activity forms part of the Flying Training Exercises of the ongoing Pacific Airlift Rally (PAR) 2023 which aims to expand the participants’ capability in delivering bundle cargoes for HADR, increase participating air forces’ interoperability and improve logistics capabilities.

PAF spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo said the Royal Malaysian Air Force, Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force Airlifters exchanged best practices on Low-Cost, Low-Altitude (LCLA) airdrop exercises.

She explained that an LCLA airdrop is a method of delivering supplies from an aircraft, noting that the term “low cost” is used since the pre-packed expendable parachutes being utilized for the airdrop are relatively cheaper.

On the other hand, the term “low altitude” refers to the height of the aircraft during the actual drop, since dropping from a lower altitude has been proven to be more accurate.

Castillo said the LCLA serves as an opportunity for the PAF and other international counterparts to share knowledge and expertise on critical airdrop techniques.

She added that the exchange of best practices will help contingent air forces to improve their capabilities and be better prepared to respond to natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies.

PAR 2023, from Aug. 14-18, brings together 779 participants from the air forces of 14 different nations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, led by the PAF.

Among the participating nations are the air forces of the United States, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Canada, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste.

Meanwhile, the NOLCOM has given assurance of continuous patrols within the country’s maritime domain to ensure that territorial waters are safely guarded.

Philippine Navy ships and aircraft are particularly watching over Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, the uncontested Philippine Rise (Benham Rise) and the Batanes Strait, all in Northern Luzon. — Ric Sapnu, Artemio Dumlao

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