Biden proposes $128-M budget for EDCA projects — Pentagon chief

Kristine Daguno-Bersamina - Philstar.com
Biden proposes $128-M budget for EDCA projects � Pentagon chief
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin welcomes Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., to the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on April 12, 2024.
AFP / Olivier Douliery

MANILA, Philippines — US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that President Joe Biden is proposing a $128 million congressional allocation to fund projects at Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites in the Philippines, according to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).

Austin delivered the update during a meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Washington, D.C., on Friday (local time), emphasizing their commitment to further strengthening the alliance with the country.

The announcement came after Austin participated in trilateral discussions with Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio on Thursday afternoon, the PCO said.

Austin explained that Biden's budget request is intended to fund 36 projects aimed at expanding the scope of the defense cooperation agreement, marking a significant increase in investment for EDCA infrastructure.

“President Biden’s new pleasant request seeks 128 million dollars to execute 36 projects and enhance defense cooperation agreement size and that would more than double the amount that we’ve invested in EDCA infrastructure,” he said.

The PCO said that Austin reaffirmed Biden's commitment to defending the Philippines, stating that "an armed attack" against Philippine public vessels, aircraft, armed forces and coastguard would invoke the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) in which Washington is obliged to defend its ally.

Signed in 2014, EDCA enables US military personnel to conduct joint training with local troops and construct and operate facilities within Philippine military bases. However, the agreement does not permit the establishment of permanent US military bases in the Philippines.

EDCA, which complements the 1951 MDT between the two countries, also authorizes the US to preposition supplies and equipment in the country for strategic purposes.

In 2016, both nations agreed on five initial sites for constructing facilities and prepositioning equipment under the EDCA, aligning with the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Strategic Basing Plan to support AFP basing and development.

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