Marcos: No additional EDCA sites in Philippines

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Marcos: No additional EDCA sites in Philippines
Philippine soldiers with Fil-Americans in the US Army.
Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — The government has no plan of giving US forces access to more military bases in the country under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), President Marcos said yesterday, even as he expects expanded joint combat exercises with US and Japanese troops in the coming months.

“No, definitely. The Philippines has no plans to open or to establish more EDCA bases,” Marcos said at a forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines when asked if the US would be given more access to certain military installations under EDCA.

Signed in 2014, EDCA allows US access to Philippine bases for joint training, pre-positioning of equipment and building of facilities such as runways, fuel storage and military housing. Permanent basing is prohibited.

There are currently nine EDCA sites in the country: Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City, Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu, Naval Base Camilo Osias in Sta. Ana in Cagayan, Lal-lo Airport also in Cagayan, Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu in Isabela and Balabac Island in Palawan.

Marcos also said giving the US military access to Philippine bases under the EDCA is not aimed at provoking China but is a reaction to “aggressive actions we had to deal with” in the West Philippine Sea.

“No, I think that’s (provoking China claim) turning the situation on its head. These are the reactions to what has happened in the South China Sea, to the aggressive actions that we have had to deal with, the water cannoning, the lasers, the collision, the blocking of our banca, our fishermen, the putting of barriers across Scarborough Shoal, this is a reaction to that. This did not cause that. That happened before we had EDCA,” the President said.

Meanwhile, Marcos was asked whether or not he expects the same “ironclad” commitment from the US should Donald Trump win the presidency in November.

“I think it would be artful to say that we do not watch closely the political cycle that is ongoing in the United States because, inevitably if there is a change in government, if President Biden is reelected, then we have a fairly solid ground to base our positions on because we have already spoken with him,” the President said.

“I will not deny that we look, certainly, we examine who’s going to be in charge. In case former president Trump is reelected, what will be the changes that will affect us… It’s hard to say, it’s all speculation for now,” he said.

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