Ground-breaking ceremony held for EDCA first major construction project

Published April 18, 2018, 12:15 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Francis Wakefield

United States and Philippine defense officials led the ground-breaking of the first major construction project of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) at Basa Air Base, Pampanga on Tuesday afternoon.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)

No less than US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim and Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana were present during the activity.

The groundbreaking ceremony marks the beginning of the construction for a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief storage facility, which house equipment and supplies critical to responding efficiently and effectively to humanitarian crises in the region.

In his speech, Lorenzana said he is honored and grateful to witness the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the EDCA H-A-D-R Warehouse project at Basa Airbase.

He said the US-Philippines alliance is built on a strong foundation of shared values, sacrifices, and history.

“I know that EDCA is one of the sure ways to enhance our alliance and help promote peace and security in the region as it provides a framework through which both the Philippines and the United States will approach the evolving security challenges,” Lorenzana said.

“As the EDCA also allows increase in training opportunities for the U.S. and the Philippine forces, we can look forward to the increased interoperability of our forces and their improved ability to respond to humanitarian crises affecting the Philippines,” he added.

Lorenzana, at the same time, said EDCA is a demonstration that two nations are interested in long term solutions to shared problems.

“We are truly thankful that the EDCA supports our government’s goal of promoting the long-term modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) through development of certain facilities and bases such as this here in Basa. EDCA also helps the AFP in performing its roles in maritime security, maritime domain awareness, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Lorenzana said.

“More importantly, today, as we break ground for the very first major project under EDCA, we can see for ourselves one of the benefits of this agreement. the EDCA H-A-D-R Warehouse will be of great value to us as it will serve as storage area for equipment and other supplies that will aid us greatly in providing assistance to the Filipino people during times of crisis and disasters,” he said.

Lorenzana said the prepositioning of equipment and supplies in a consolidated location increases the country’s ability to respond quickly in times of crisis.

“Hence, it is the Filipino community that will ultimately benefit from thisproject which is not only a testament to our countries’ commitment to having a stronger alliance, but also to our desire to help one another grow capabilities together,” Lorenzana said.

“To the United States government: thank you very much for your concern for our people and for the continued support. I look forward to a stronger defense cooperation between our two countries. Mabuhay!,” he added.

For his part, Kim echoed Lorenzana’s statement that EDCA further strengthens RP and US alliance.

“The primary focus is our alliance, US-Philippines alliance and in fact, we think our desire to move forward with the implementation of EDCA is driven by our desire to strengthen our alliance,” Kim said.

“So obviously it serves the interest of both (the) United States and the Philippines to the extent that together we can contribute to regional challenges, problems and issues. I think that’s great for everybody and I do believe that the increased capabilities of EDCA facilities will bring to our alliance and bring to US and Philippine military will help regionally. So its a good byproduct of what we meant to, strengthening of our alliance,” he added.

Kim said the United States is working closely with the Philippine government on future EDCA projects at five locations: Basa Air Base, Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation, Lumbia Air Base, Antonio Bautista Air Base, and Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base.

Also presenf during the event are Philippine Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Galileo Kintanar and AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Policy Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla.

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is an agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines whkch meant to bolster US and RP alliance and friendship.

The agreement allows the United States to rotate troops into the Philippines for extended stays and allows the U.S. to build and operate facilities on Philippine bases, for both American and Philippine forces.

The EDCA is a supplemental agreement to the previous Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA which was sjgned by then Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg in Manila on April 28, 2014