Malacanang announced Monday four locations considered “suitable and mutually beneficial” as additional Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites that are seen to boost the disaster response of the country as the locations will also be used for humanitarian and relief operations during emergencies and natural disasters.
According to the Palace, the four locations inspected and assessed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) include 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.
During an Army event last month, President Marcos said Filipino and American officials had already identified and agreed on the four new sites and would soon make a formal announcement soon.
The four extra sites will be scattered around the Philippines, but the main goal is to defend the country’s eastern coast, the President said, noting the Philippines’ continental shelf on Luzon’s eastern side was also put into consideration.
To overcome opposition from some local government units (LGUs) not keen on hosting US forces and equipment, the President said he talked to the officials of those LGUs and explained the importance of the EDCA sites in their jurisdictions.
Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong earlier said the EDCA sites would not be American military bases.
These sites, the DND official noted, would be used as storage and warehouse facilities for military logistics.
President Marcos granted in February US troops access to four more Philippine military camps on top of the five existing locations under the EDCA.
Filipino and American troops are also scheduled to hold their largest-ever military exercise this April.
The Pentagon announced that the United States and the Philippines have agreed to review the full range of their maritime cooperation in the 2 + 2 meeting in Washington also this month.