Palace unveils 4 new EDCA sites

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 3) – Malacañang Palace on Monday revealed the location of four new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites after Manila and Washington agreed to expand the deal last February.

These are the Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana town, Cagayan; the Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo town, Cagayan; Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu town, Isabela; and Balabac Island in Palawan, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) disclosed in a statement.

Upon completion, United States troops could be indefinitely stationed there on a rotational basis and could use the sites as storage and warehouse facilities.

READ: PH, US agree to boost American military presence, create 4 new EDCA sites

The Palace described the four locations as “suitable and mutually beneficial” EDCA sites. The PCO, quoting President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said the sites would be scattered around the Philippines with the main goal of defending the country’s eastern coast. 

The five existing EDCA sites are the Cesar Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro, Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu, and the Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan.

The US Department of Defense, on the other hand, claimed that the new sites would improve the ability of the armies of the US and the Philippines to work together and respond "more seamlessly" to shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, such as natural and humanitarian disasters.

The Pentagon said it will cooperate with its Filipino counterpart to rapidly pursue modernization projects at the new EDCA locations.

"The Department intends to expand funding on top of the $82 million we have already allocated toward infrastructure investments at the existing EDCA sites," the US agency said. "In addition to supporting Alliance commitments, these investments will also spur economic growth and job opportunities in their respective provinces."

It further guaranteed it will ensure its actions around EDCA sites are "responsive to the needs and priorities of local communities."

Malacañang said Marcos had spoken to local government unit (LGU) officials about the locations to convince them of the importance of the sites.

Cagayan Gov. governor Manuel Mamba earlier said he was not keen on hosting EDCA sites in his province.