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Galvez: New EDCA installations will improve PH security and the economy.

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Carlito Galvez Jr., secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND), allayed concerns on Saturday about proposals to add new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites in the Philippines, saying that these facilities would not only improve the nation’s security but also stimulate the economy.

Concerns about the DND and the US Department of Defense’s decision to designate four more locations as EDCA sites earlier this week led Galvez to publish this statement on Saturday.

“I must emphasize that the PH-US alliance and EDCA’s implementation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program, are intended to enhance our capabilities and cooperation to respond to emergencies and safeguard our maritime and environmental interests. Therefore, no one should be concerned about these EDCA sites because they may also encourage financial investments, cooperative protection, and the preservation of our natural and maritime resources “added he.

He continued by saying that every nation has the right to expand or enhance its defense capability.

In pursuit of this right, the DND has consistently held that all engagements with the US as well as other foreign partners must be conducted in accordance with the Philippine Constitution and other national laws. He continued, “At the outset, let me point out that defense capability building is within the sovereign right of every country.

Galvez stated that the EDCA was established in collaboration with the Americans to enhance the capacity of Philippine facilities to respond to catastrophes and disasters.

Keeping this in mind, the DND director continued, “the EDCA was principally intended to develop our own bases and facilities in line with our overall efforts to boost our defensive posture, notably our preparedness for reacting to catastrophes and emergencies.”

Galvez had previously stated that the four new EDCA locations will be made public after consultations with the surrounding communities had been completed.

Galvez stated that the EDCA, in collaboration with the US, will facilitate the building or upgrading of infrastructure and facilities that will directly improve the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and serve as storage or housing for equipment and supplies that will be prepositioned in “agreed locations.”

This still requires prior approval from the Philippines, as required in the EDCA rules, he stressed.

He continued, “Prepositioned equipment that will be held at the Agreed Locations will boost our capacity to rapidly offer humanitarian assistance to disaster-affected countries and enable more speedy response times during disasters, emergencies, or contingencies.”

The head of DND also stated that American Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III had reaffirmed that the EDCA is not about permanent basing in the nation, which is prohibited by the Philippine Constitution, but rather a cooperative agreement that will give our allies access to training opportunities with Philippine personnel on a rotational basis for the purpose of enhancing interoperability and mutual capacity-building between Philippine and US forces.

The EDCA, which was finalized in August 2013 after eight rounds of negotiations and was signed in 2014, grants US forces access to specific Philippine military sites, the authority to establish facilities, and the ability to preposition equipment, aircraft, and ships, but forbids permanent basing.

Future facilities will be constructed at Cesar Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga; Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija; Lumbia Airfield in Cagayan de Oro City; Antonio Bautista Air Base in Puerto Princesa, Palawan; and Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu under the terms of the EDCA, which the Philippine government is implementing in partnership with the US.

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