Manila, 2 February 2023 (TDI): United States (US) and the Philippines have announced their plans to accelerate the full implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
The agreement designates four new agreed locations in strategic areas of the country and substantial completion of the projects in the existence of agreed locations. Also, it will allow the American military access to four more bases in the country.
The development came during the visit of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Manila, amid the growing tension over possible military expansion and incursions in the South China Sea.
The deal underscores the closer ties between the US and the Philippines under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and a shift from his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, who fostered warm relations with China.
President Marcos said after his meeting with Austin, “The future of the Philippines, and for that matter, the Asia Pacific will always have to involve the United States”.
Although the statement did not identify the four additional locations, Philippines officials said earlier that potential sites include the northern province of Cagayan, which is close to Taiwan.
The other sites also include the western province which is close to the South China sea. The US has allocated over $82 million for infrastructure buildup at the existing five sites, like runway repairs & construction of warehouses for weapons storage & disaster response.
Remarks by Secretary of Defense
Secretary of Defense of the US reiterated that the allocated amount will also support economic growth and job creation in the local Philippines community.
The addition of these new EDCA locations will allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines and respond to other shared challenges.
In addition, he also said, “The United States and the Philippines have committed to moving quickly in agreeing to the necessary plans and investments for the new and existing EDCA locations”.
The Philippine-US Alliance has stood the test of time and remains ironclad. We look forward to the opportunities these new sites will create to expand our cooperation together.