PH retains sovereignty over EDCA sites – DND

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 8) – Brushing off claims of violation of Philippine sovereignty, the Department of National Defense (DND) reiterated that the country retains its responsibility over agreed locations under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

“There is no gross violation of our national sovereignty as claimed by certain quarters. The EDCA, which is an offshoot of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court,” the DND said on Friday.

On top of the existing five sites, Malacañang on Monday announced the additional four new locations of EDCA sites after Manila and Washington agreed to expand the deal in February.

READ: Palace unveils 4 new EDCA sites

Party-list groups Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and Bayan Muna earlier cited some provisions in the agreement that will just allow United States’ unlimited access to troops, bases, and activities in the country.

ACT Rep. France Castro said under Article 3, paragraph 2 of EDCA, the Philippines can’t decline if the US requests access to use any public land and facilities in the country – including private property.

Castro said the nine EDCA locations is bound to increase, turning the whole country into a US base.

Meanwhile, former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares questioned Article 12, Paragraph 4 of the agreement which states EDCA shall “continue in force unless terminated.”

“The EDCA is a continuing agreement, and this is the fundamental problem. Because it does not have a term limit there is no mandatory requirement for its review within a certain period before it expires, nor does it require renegotiation upon the expiry,” he said.

READ: US dictates the terms of EDCA – Bayan Muna

But according to the DND, EDCA sites will be mutually operated by the two countries, stressing that it will not turn into a permanent basing facilities for the US.

“The EDCA sites primarily consist of storage facilities, which require minimum use of utilities since they will only be utilized during exercises and emergencies, and improvements on existing facilities owned and operated by the AFP,” the DND added.

It also said that EDCA will also create jobs and boost the local economies of the communities where the sites are located.