According to the Department of National Defense, projects under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States are intended to strengthen the Philippines’ defense capabilities rather than to engage in aggression with other countries.
“Our projects under EDCA and our other defense partnerships are not intended for aggression. We are not preparing for war, rather we are aiming to develop our defense capabilities against eventualities and threats to our security,” DND officer-in-charge Carlito Galvez said.
He stated that the Filipino military’s “facility readiness” is being improved as part of the security agreement with the US.
Galvez cited President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s directive to the Military Forces of the Philippines to shift its attention “towards territorial defense, especially in the West Philippine Sea.”
“Our previous engagements and exercises with our partners used to focus on internal security operations. Now, we are eyeing to strengthen our abilities to respond to external threats that may arise along our border areas,” he said.
Galvez stated that the DND intends to increase the number of EDCA sites, a month after Manila and the US agreed to establish four new locations in the Philippines for rotation of American personnel and equipment.
“We understand the apprehensions expressed by our local chief executives about EDCA and our bilateral exercises. However, we must consider the volatile situation in which we operate and not view our country in isolation,” he said.
EDCA projects not intended for war – DND chief
“The Philippines straddles a crucial location in the Pacific, and we have seaboards to the north, south, east and west. All of these must be monitored and protected,” Galvez noted.
The new bases would be built in Northern Luzon, in Cagayan, Isabela, and Zambales.
During a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing chaired by Sen. Imee Marcos, officials from the DND, AFP, and the Department of Foreign Affairs were pressed to explain and defend the planned construction of the new EDCA sites, although previous projects remained unfinished.
Galvez disputed that the administration had selected additional EDCA sites and refused to say whether the military had already switched to a new defense plan.
The alliance between Manila and Washington to establish more EDCA sites comes in the midst of Beijing’s escalating assertiveness toward Taiwan, which is close to the Philippine island of Luzon, and its relentless military assault in the disputed South China Sea.
Visit our Facebook page for more news updates.