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Galvez: EDCA projects in Philippines meant for deterrence, not war

Developing the Philippines' defense capabilities through efforts such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States aims to build deterrence, and is not for engaging in war, Department of National Defense officer-in-charge Carlito G. Galvez, Jr.

In a statement, Galvez said projects under the EDCA were geared towards enhancing the readiness of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to speed up its external defense development.

"The geopolitical situation is becoming more precarious by the day,” Galvez said.

“Our projects under EDCA and our other defense partnerships are not intended for aggression. We are not preparing for war, rather we aim to develop our defense capabilities against eventualities and threats to our security," he added.

Galvez said the Philippines has shifted its focus to "territorial defense."

"As the Commander-in-Chief, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. directed the AFP recently, we are shifting our focus towards territorial defense, especially in the West Philippine Sea (WPS),” Galvez said.

“Our previous engagements and exercises with our partners used to focus on internal security operations. Now, we are eyeing to strengthen our abilities to respond to external threats that may arise along our border areas," he added.

Galvez the DND was looking o achieve "an optimal number and locations of the EDCA sites to maximize their coverage of the Philippine archipelago."

The DND has announced that the Philippine and US sides agreed to designate four new EDCA Agreed Locations.

EDCA, along with the Visiting Forces Agreement, operationalizes the 1951 PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). It was signed in 2014 but its implementation was delayed due to various reasons.

“We understand the apprehensions expressed by our local chief executives about EDCA and our bilateral exercises. However, we must consider the volatile situation in which we operate and not view our country in isolation,” said Galvez. “

The Philippines straddles a crucial location in the Pacific, and we have seaboards to the north, south, east, and west. All of these must be monitored and protected," Galvez said.

Galvez said the Supreme Court upheld the EDCA's constitutionality in 2016 despite legal challenges.

"Coupled with other technical issues, which have since been resolved, and the restrictions brought by the pandemic, the implementation of the projects under EDCA was delayed for many years,” Galvez said.

“Thus, the identification of new sites for additional EDCA Agreed Locations is long overdue," he added. —NB, GMA Integrated News