Marcos yet to decide on locations for additional EDCA sites
The Philippine government is still studying the possible locations for the additional Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites, according to President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
Speaking to reporters on board PR 001 on Sunday, Marcos was asked if the new EDCA sites had already been identified.
"Alam naman niyo pinag-aaralan natin. Malapit na ‘yan (You know that we are still studying it. It's already coming)... I will have a command conference and we will decide once and for all and we’ll announce," Marcos said.
However, Marcos emphasized that he does not want the new EDCA sites to cause tension in the South China Sea.
"Gusto natin ay mapayapa at hindi magulo at may safe passage," Marcos explained.
(We want it to be peaceful and there should be safe passage.)
"It’s a valid concern and it’s something that we have to pay attention to, that we do not be seen as... provocative to anyone and… It will not have the opposite effect from what we want," he added.
The Department of National Defense (DND) announced a deal that gave American troops access to four more bases in strategic areas of the country, with the aim of accelerating the full implementation of the EDCA.
Signed in 2014, EDCA grants US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities; the right to construct facilities; and preposition equipment, aircraft, and vessels, but rules out permanent basing.
The Philippine Constitution outlaws foreign military bases in the country unless covered by a treaty.
The five current EDCA locations are Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu, and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City.
Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba, meanwhile, has already expressed apprehension about having an EDCA site in his province, noting that "any foreign forces or foreign bases will always be a magnet for nuclear power attacks." —VAL, GMA Integrated News