MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) said construction projects under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States are scheduled for implementation at the agreed locations in 2023.

DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong, in a statement Tuesday, said USD66.5 million is earmarked for the construction of EDCA projects in the approved locations within the next two years.

"The projects include construction of training, warehouse, and other facilities at Cesar Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Ramon Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, and Lumbia Airport Base Station in Cagayan de Oro," he added.

Andolong said the DND is committed to accelerate the EDCA by concluding infrastructure enhancement and repair projects, and developing new infrastructure projects at existing EDCA locations.

This also includes exploring new locations that will build a more credible mutual defense posture.

"The Philippines and the US have maintained dialogue to discuss the implementation of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and ensure that it remains relevant to address contemporary security challenges. Through the Mutual Defense Board (MDB) and Security Engagement Board (SEB), both sides continue to discuss and collaborate on projects under EDCA," Andolong said.

He added the DND remains consistent in its position that all engagements with the US as well as other foreign partners must be conducted in accordance with the Philippine Constitution and other national laws.

"The Department is focused on planning joint activities that will enable us to develop our individual and joint capacity to address current security challenges in line with the implementing details provided by Philippines-US defense agreements anchored on the MDT. With the progress in Fort Magsaysay, Basa Air Base, and Antonio Bautista Air Base (in Palawan), the Department hopes to be able to complete other pending projects," Andolong said.

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.

Earlier, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro said the US has expressed interest to build five more EDCA facilities. (PNA)