2023 April 5
DND chief Carlito Galvez Jr.
MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) chief Carlito Galvez Jr. on Wednesday maintained that the four additional Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites would greatly boost the Philippines’ defensive capabilities.
“The DND and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) welcomed the addition of four sites under the EDCA with the United States, noting that these will further boost the country’s capabilities to protect our national interests, as well as contribute to collective defense in the region,” Galvez said in a statement.
The Philippines earlier named 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 as additional EDCA locations.
This is in line with Galvez’s and US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III’s announcement on adding four new sites for projects under the EDCA in February.
“Aside from enhancing our posturing of forces to address both external and internal security threats and challenges, we expect the construction of facilities and infrastructure upgrades to further help us ensure the welfare of our people,” Galvez said.
He said the AFP’s “strengthened presence” in the new locations, especially along the country’s eastern and western seaboards, would enable Filipino troops to respond quickly to distress calls.
This will also allow these units to protect Filipino fishermen’s rights and livelihood in Philippine waters, he added.
According to the DND and the AFP, the implementation of projects under the EDCA is aligned with the Philippines’ efforts to modernize its alliance with the US to respond effectively to future security challenges, including disasters, humanitarian assistance, and climate change.
“The new EDCA sites will not just strengthen the AFP’s capability to protect the people and the state but it will also boost the disaster response capability of the country,” AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Andres C. Centino said.
Centino said they would closely coordinate with their counterparts in the US Armed Forces for the “realization” of these objectives.
Galvez further noted that the Philippines would continue to pursue efforts with the US and other like-minded nations towards “collective defense in order to maintain peace, freedom of movement, and prosperity.”
“Accelerated implementation of EDCA, including the addition of agreed locations, also aims to protect the busy sea lanes of commerce along the West Philippine Sea, and our national interests along the eastern side and the Philippine Rise,” he said.
EDCA projects are also seen to benefit the Philippines economically through the provision of jobs and other economic opportunities in the construction activities in the agreed locations and procurement of local goods and supplies by the US military and personnel, Galvez said.