Marcos: PH won’t allow use of EDCA sites for offensive operations

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 10) — Military bases that host US troops and logistics will not be a staging ground for offensive operations, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Monday in response to China’s claim that the temporary stationing sites are a threat to regional stability.

“Ang reaksyon ng China ay hindi naman siguro kataka-taka dahil nag-aalala sila,” Marcos told reporters. “Pero hindi naman tayo papayag na… gamitin ang mga bases natin para sa kahit anong offensive na aksyon.”

[Translation: China’s reaction is not surprising because it is concerned. However, we won’t allow our bases to be used for any offensive action.]

RELATED: PH retains sovereignty over EDCA sites – DND

The government had announced the location of the four new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites, which could temporarily host US military logistics and personnel on a rotational basis.

Defense analysts see the move to expand US military presence in the country as part of efforts to deter China’s increasingly aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea and against Taiwan.

Two of the new EDCA sites will be in Cagayan, one in Isabela, and one in Palawan, Malacañang said. These are on top of the five existing ones in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, and Palawan.

Marcos said the EDCA sites will only be used to help the Philippines in times of need, including for relief operations during disasters.

“Kaya't kung wala namang sumusugod sa atin, hindi na sila kailangang mag-alala dahil hindi naman sila natin lalabanan,” he said. “Ang ginagawa lamang natin ay ipagpatuloy natin na pinapatibay natin ang depensa ng ating teritoryo, ang pagdepensa ng republika.”

[Translation: A country that is not attacking us need not worry because we won’t fight them. What we’re doing is we continue to strengthen the defense of our territory, the defense of the republic.]

Manila and Washington said the additional EDCA facilities would also create economic opportunities for Filipinos given the infrastructure investments in these locations.

China had said that an expanded military cooperation will only endanger regional peace and stability, “drag the Philippines into the abyss of geopolitical strife and damage its economic development."