DND: US pledge for EDCA projects, choppers now at ₱11B

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 21) — The United States has so far earmarked a total of ₱11 billion for projects under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) as well as the acquisition of helicopters for the Philippine military, according to the Department of National Defense (DND).

In a statement on Friday, DND officer-in-charge Carlito Galvez Jr. said the US has pledged $100 million (roughly ₱5.5 billion) for the purchase of medium-lift choppers that will be used for disaster response and non-combat operations of the Armed Forces.

This is on top of Washington's $100 million-pledge for the development of EDCA sites.

"This brings the total of the US' pledge of support for the HADR [humanitarian assistance and disaster relief] helicopters and EDCA projects to ₱11 billion," Galvez said.

"The various projects in these EDCA sites, most of which are for warehousing and storage for HADR-related material, are scheduled for completion by the end of 2023," he added.

Earlier this month, the US announced it has set millions of dollars in infrastructure investments for both new and existing EDCA sites, expressing confidence that this will spur job creation and economic growth in local communities.

The four new EDCA sites will be stationed in Santa Ana and Lal-lo towns in Cagayan, Gamu town in Isabela, and on Balabac Island in Palawan.

According to Galvez, at least 21 mayors in Cagayan — whose governor previously expressed concern over the establishment of EDCA sites in the province — have already voiced their support for the implementation of the deal.

He noted that the additional areas are also expected to "serve as points for evacuation" of overseas Filipino workers "in the event of a flare-up in the region's flashpoints."

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