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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

More Edca sites likely,‘for full protection’

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THERE is a possibility that additional sites for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) will be identified and developed because the country needs a full-blown security umbrella, according to a military official.

Col. Medel Aguilar, spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the country needs a full security cover from the military in order to protect its sovereignty and its maritime resources, and it could do this with the EDCA.

The EDCA, a security agreement with the United States, allows the prepositioning of American troops and their equipment in identified and developed sites located inside military camps in the country.

At least nine sites, three of them located in Cagayan and Isabela, have been identified for the EDCA. However, Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba and other local officials have expressed reservations over his province’s hosting of US forces.

Over the weekend, the Department of National Defense said additional Cagayan officials have already thrown their support behind EDCA, a development that it welcomed as it cited earlier the importance of the security agreement.

“As of now, 21 mayors have expressed their support and we expect this number to increase, with one municipality even intimating the possibility of donating a tract of land for the use of the Armed Forces of the Philippines [AFP],” it said in a statement issued through its spokesman Arsenio Andolong.

“Truly, the overwhelming majority of local chief executives in the province supporting our endeavor proves the Filipino people’s appreciation of the merits of EDCA, not only for enhancing our national security but for providing opportunities to further develop our local communities as well,” the DND said.

Aguilar said the expansion or allotment of additional sites for the EDCA assures the military that it could fully and readily protect any parts of the country.

“If we are to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity, including the protection of maritime resources that should be enjoyed by our people, we need 360-degree protection capability for the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Aguilar said.

He said the classification of the country as an archipelagic also adds up to the possibility of additional EDCA sites.

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