The United States is not interested in building permanent bases in the Philippines.
This was the clarification made by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III following the announcement made by the Philippines’ Department of National Defense and the US Department of Defense that they have agreed to designate four new locations as Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) facilities.
“In terms of EDC locations, I just want to be clear that we are not seeking permanent basing in the Philippines,” said Austin during a media briefing on Thursday, February 2.
“As you heard us say in our statements, EDCA is a collaborative agreement that enables rotational activities,” he said, adding that EDCA locations are a key pillar of training and opportunities to strengthen the interoperability of both Philippines and US forces.
“It also provides us the ability to respond effectively to humanitarian issues and also disaster relief and other types of crisis, not just for the Philippines but for the regions we are at,” Austin said.
In the same press conference, Philippine Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the four new EDCA locations would be revealed once they have finished consulting with the local communities where the facilities would be located.
“The president wanted that all actions will be consulted with our local governments and wanted also to see that these agreements of the four EDCA sites will be finished,” he said.
The EDCA, which was signed in 2014, allows US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities, the right to build facilities, and preposition equipment, aircraft, and vessels, but rules out permanent basing.
Under the EDCA, the Philippine government is working with the US to build the future facilities in 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 City, Palawan; and Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu province.
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