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More EDCA sites to cost taxpayers' money -Gabriela solon

The operation of four additional Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites in the country will eat up more Filipino taxpayers’ money.

Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela Women's Party Representative Arlene Brosas issued the statement, reiterating her opposition to more military operations of the United States in the Philippines.

Brosas said that US forces and their defense contractors will have “unimpeded access” to the locations and will not pay any rental costs to the Philippine government.

"Pati tubig, kuryente at iba pang operational costs ng EDCA military bases ay gagastusan ng mamamayang Pilipino. This will unfortunately eat up more financial resources that should be allocated to social services and support for vulnerable sectors," the opposition lawmaker said.

"Ang masaklap dito ay hindi naman para sa interes ng mamamayang Pilipino ang operasyong militar ng mga Kano sa bansa kundi para sa interes ng Amerika na mang-upat ng gera sa Tsina at bentahan tayo ng sobra-sobrang kagamitang pandigma," she added.

(The Filipinos would pay for all the operational costs of EDCA military bases. This will unfortunately eat up more financial resources that should be allocated to social services and support for vulnerable sectors. What’s worse is that its operations are not for the interest of the Filipinos but the interest of the Americans which is to meddle with the looming war in China.)

In the 2019 national budget, the government allocated P124 million as EDCA counterpart fund, Brosas said.

This was on top of other expenses related for the upkeep of shared EDCA locations, she added.

"We are literally paying for what is essentially a gross violation of our national sovereignty, in line with the ruling regime's puppetry to US interests in the region," Brosas said.

"Walang interes ang Estados Unidos na paunlarin ang ating defense posture dahil sa aktwal ay gusto nitong panatilihing palaasa ang Pilipinas sa mga ukay-ukay na kagamitan at armas na pandigma nito," she ended.

(The United States has no plan to develop our defense posture because what they want is for the Philippines to depend on their second-hand weapons.)

Earlier this week, Malacañang announced that the new EDCA sites will be located at 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.

Signed in 2014, EDCA grants US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities, allows them to build facilities, and pre-position equipment, aircraft and vessels. Permanent basing is prohibited.

In a statement, the DND said "there is no ‘gross violation of our national sovereignty’ as claimed by certain quarters."

DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong also stressed that the joint activities between the Philippines and the US are “intended to enhance the partnership” of the two countries.

“These are not directed against any particular country but to modernize our alliance with the US and maintain a peaceful, free and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” he added.

The Defense official said "access to and use of EDCA Agreed Locations by US personnel is by invitation of the Philippines, and is by no means unhampered or unimpeded."

“The Philippines retains sovereignty and responsibility over EDCA Agreed Locations,” he said.

GMA News Online also reached out to Malacanang and will publish its response as soon as it becomes available.—LDF, GMA Integrated News