MANILA – The United States has expressed interest to build five more facilities in the country under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro said Monday.
"Yes, may bagong proposal na EDCA projects (Yes, there is a new proposal for EDCA projects)," he said during a media interview.
Bacarro said these include two possible sites in Cagayan, one in Palawan, one in Zambales, and one in Isabela.
"Wala pang kasiguraduhan yan (It is still not definite yet). It will still be subject to vetting," Bacarro said.
The AFP chief also said these proposals are still subject to approval by the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Finalized after eight rounds of talks in August 2013, the EDCA which was signed in 2014 allows US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities, the right to build facilities, and preposition equipment, aircraft, and vessels, but rules out permanent basing.
Under the EDCA, the Philippine government is working with the United States to build the future facilities in Cesar Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga; Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija; Lumbia Airfield in Cagayan De Oro; Antonio Bautista Airbase in Puerto Princesa, Palawan; and Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu.
Meanwhile, DND officer-in-charge Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. said these EDCA sites are only "training facilities and warehouses".
"We already have five EDCA agreed locations and there are ongoing projects now and for the next two years, the concentration will be on the completion of the projects within EDCA during the MDB-SEB (Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board) held in Hawaii. There were some additional EDCA sites being considered," he added.
Faustino said these still have to go through the process which includes constitutional provisions.
"Of course, we have to consider some constitution provisions, some of our national laws before we could go into that, so right now we'll just forward (it) to the DFA (for) their comments regarding the additional EDCA sites," he added. (PNA)