‘New Edca sites won’t be used for offensive actions’


PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Monday gave assurances the new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites in the country will not be used for “offensive actions.”

The President made the statement after China expressed last week its concern over how the additional EDCA sites may put Philippines at risk of being drawn into the “potential conflict” in the Taiwan Strait.

“Ang reaction ng China ay hindi naman siguro kataka-taka dahil nag-aalala sila.Pero hindi naman tayo…hindi tayo papayag na gamitin ang mga bases natin para sa kahit anong offensive na aksyon. Ito ay para lamang tulungan ang Pilipinas pagka nangangailangan ng tulong ang Pilipinas (The reaction of China [on the new EDCA sites] is not surprising, but we will not…We will not allow the bases to be used for offensive action. Those will only be used by the Philippines if there will be a need for it),” Marcos said in an ambush interview after the commemoration of the 81st Anniversary of the Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) at the Mt. Samat National Shrine in Bataan.

The President said the new EDCA sites are only part of the government initiatives to boost the country’s defenses.

“Kaya’t kung wala naman sumusugod sa atin, hindi na sila kailangan mag-alala dahil hindi naman sila natin lalabanan (So if no one will attack us, they [China] have nothing to worry about since we will not engage with them,” Marcos explained.

Last week, Malacañang announced the four new EDCA sites will be located in the Naval Base Camilo Osias in Sta Ana, Cagayan; Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo, Cagayan; Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela and Balabac Island in Palawan.

These sites will be in addition to the five existing EDCA locations located in Cebu, Cagayan De Oro, Nueva Ecija, Palawan and Pampanga.

The Palace stressed the new EDCA sites will only be “used as storage and warehouse facilities for military logistics.”

EDCA was signed in 2014 to boost the country’s defense capabilities and disaster response by granting the United States (US) troops access to the country’s existing military bases and camps.

Peaceful resolution

Tensions in the Taiwan Strait are currently high following the recent visit of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen with US lawmakers, including House speaker Kevin McCarthy in California, which was vehemently condemned by the Chinese authorities as “separatist activities.

China maintains it has jurisdiction over the self-governing Taiwan, which it wants to be brought back to its control, by force if necessary.

The incident prompted the Chinese government to impose sanctions against American organizations that hosted the Taiwanese head of state and to launch military drills in the Taiwan Strait.

Japan and the US said they hope the brewing tension will no longer escalate into armed conflict.

“Another military threat is now underway around Taiwan, the immediate large scale military action in the vicinity by a ‘neighbor’ seriously affect the peace and security of Japan and other countries in the region as well as the
safety and livelihood of their citizens,” Japanese ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko said in his speech at the Day of Valor commemoration

“We sincerely hope the issues in Taiwan will be resolved peacefully through dialogue and not by force,” he added.

This was reiterated by US embassy Chargé d’Affaires Heather Variava, noting it is in the best interest of all parties to preserve the peace in the Taiwan Strait.

“I would also like to echo the words of my colleague, the Japanese ambassador calling for the peaceful, prosperous, open free Indo-Pacific and the rules-based order that we all have enjoyed for the last 70-plus years,” Variava said.