The Philippines and the United States are eyeing 14 projects on the four new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Thursday.
“On the new sites, identified na rin yung mga projects to be constructed in those areas. So we’re looking (at) mess hall, rehabilitation of runway, construction of additional billeting facilities, acquisition of generators, installation of electrical system, (and) construction of pier with water supply,” AFP spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar said in an interview.
The four additional EDCA locations were 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.
Also included in the proposed projects are the construction of humanitarian and assistance disaster relief (HADR) warehouses, hangars with electrical and water facilities, billeting or barracks complete with amenities for personnel, and a command and control fusion system.
However, Aguilar did not disclose any details on the proposed projects to be implemented in the four new locations.
Last week, US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson said she was willing to meet with Philippine governors who have expressed concern about the opening of four additional sites that the US military would have access to under the EDCA.
Carlson made the statement after Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba expressed apprehensions over his province being the site of one of the new EDCA sites. Last month, 5,000 Cagayanos joined a prayer vigil against EDCA.
At the same time, Carlson declared that Washington’s commitment to support the Philippines is not about any other country, saying bilateral ties can stand on their own.
“The Mutual Defense Treaty dates back to 1951. Our commitment to the Philippines stands on its own. Our relationship stands on its own, it’s not about a third country, it’s not about a single challenge. But we certainly have global challenges when it comes to climate change, when it comes to cybersecurity, when it comes to environmental degradation of our surrounding seas and climate,” Carlson said in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel.
Asked to comment on China’s statement that the increased presence of the US in the Philippines through the EDCA sites affects regional stability, Carlson said; “There’s so much that we’re working together. It’s not about China. It certainly is not about China alone, it’s about what we do together… It dates back decades. I understand that that argument is out there but that’s not why we’re committed to the Philippines,” she said.
Carlson also said the “EDCA sites can be used for whatever the Philippine government invites the United States to do.”