Analyst: EDCA sites to 'fortify' PH's defense capabilities


Posted at Apr 14 2023 07:02 PM

Watch more on iWantTFC

Video from PTV

MANILA — An analyst on Friday told critics of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) that this was meant to boost the Philippines' defense capabilities, and not to prepare the country for any armed conflict.

"Ito namang ginagawa natin dito sa EDCA ‘no, sa Balikatan ay hindi nangangahulugan na tayo ay nakikipagdigmaan sa bansang Tsina. Hindi," said Froilan Calilung, a political analyst from the University of Santo Tomas. 

"Dapat maintindihan natin that we are doing this to strengthen and fortify our capabilities... At maaari po na makita natin ito ‘no na isang paraan din para masiguro natin na iyong ating internal and external security ay talagang nabibigyan ng pansin," Calilung added in a public briefing. 

China earlier this month said the US was "endangering regional peace" in the new deal that would see 4 more bases be used by US troops, including one near the disputed South China Sea and another not far from Taiwan.

House Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro alleged that President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. was "misinformed on the true text" of EDCA, as the country will "have no say at all" on the how the armory and equipment would be used. 

Sectors added this would only worsen tensions between China and US and drag the Philippines into the conflict. Calilung, however, believes the additional EDCA sites are for the "strategic defense of our territory."

"Kung titingnan natin at iuugnay nga natin sa binanggit ng atin ung sakali man na tayo po ay madadamay nga dito sa kanilang sigalot, siguro kailangan po nating tingnan iyong terms of reference nitong agrimyento so that at least masiguro po natin na mananatili iyong kapayapaan din sa ating bansa," he said. 

On April 3, the Philippines announced 4 new sites for the US military to use under EDCA: Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana, Cagayan, Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo, Cagayan, Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela, and Balabac Island in Palawan.

The sites were seen "to boost the disaster response of the country as the locations will also be used for humanitarian and relief operations during emergencies and natural disasters," Malacañang had said in a statement.

Signed in 2014, EDCA allows Philippine and American militaries to train together and respond to natural and humanitarian crises. Since the signing, 9 military bases have been identified as EDCA sites.