President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Wednesday some of the new sites being targeted to host American troops under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) would be in Palawan and in the northern and southern portions of the Philippines.
Speaking to reporters following a Philippine Army event, Marcos said the new sites have already been identified and a formal announcement would be made soon.
"We'll make a formal announcement. But yes, they have been identified," Marcos said, adding they would just coordinate first with American authorities.
"So there are four extra sites scattered around the Philippines. There are some in the north, there are some around Palawan, there are some further south. So iba-iba talaga. It’s really to defend our eastern coast," Marcos said.
The Department of National Defense (DND) in February 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 EDCA.
Signed in 2014, EDCA grants US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities, the right to construct facilities, and pre-position equipment, aircraft and vessels, but rules out permanent basing.
Meanwhile, Marcos said his administration has already reached to local government units that expressed apprehension on establishing EDCA sites in their localities.
"We explained to them why it was important that we have that and why it will actually be good for their province. And mukha namang naintindihan nila [they seem to understood it]," he said.
Defense officer-in-charge Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said local governments in Cagayan and Camarines Sur provinces are open to establishing new EDCA sites in their areas.
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. —KBK, GMA Integrated News