A fifth site for the expansion of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and United States was supposed to be established in Subic, Zambales but it was not approved due to "political sensitivities."
Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr., officer in charge of the Department of National Defense (DND), said the government does not want to send a wrong message to the public that it is planning to bring back American naval bases in Subic.
Photo courtesy of Manila Bulletin
Fifth EDCA site not approved due to ‘political sensitivities’ – Galvez
At a glance
A fifth site for the expansion of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and United States was supposed to be established in Subic, Zambales but it was not approved due to “political sensitivities,” a top defense official disclosed.
Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr., officer in charge of the Department of National Defense (DND), said the supposed fifth EDCA site in Subic was not included in the approved locations by Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“Actually, Subic is where our Navy base is located. That is an economic hub, too, and we also know the political sensitivities there,” Galvez said on Monday night, April 4.
“When we say political sensitivities, these are the previous issues that we have seen before. We don’t want to have political issues on those areas,” he added.
Pressed for further details, Galvez said that the government does not want to send a wrong message to the public that it is planning to bring back American naval bases in Subic.
Subic Bay was once the largest naval base of US in Asia since the Philippine government allowed them to operate in the country with the signing of the Military Bases Agreement in 1947. The pact gave the US a 99-year lease on select Philippine military facilities. The term was reduced to only 25 years due to an amendment passed in 1966.
However, in 1991, the American troops’ continued presence in the Philippines ended when the Senate rejected the proposed Republic of the Philippines-United States Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Peace which would have extended their stay in Subic for 10 more years.
Over 30 years later, the return of American troops in Subic raised concern among locals there especially since it faces the South China Sea, where the Philippines and China have overlapping territorial claims.
“We don’t want to make it appear that we are trying [to establish] a permanent basing there,” Galvez explained.
Galvez issued the remarks shortly after Malacanang finally announced the location of the four approved sites to accelerate the implementation of EDCA, a 2014 treaty which allows US to rotate troops, preposition their assets, as well as build and operate facilities in Philippine military bases.
The four sites are at Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana, Cagayan; Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela; Balabac Island in Palawan; and Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan.
The establishment of the four additional locations will be funded by the US, and the facilities will be jointly operated by Manila and Washington. Galvez could not say when the construction of the facilities will begin.
Galvez said the four additional sites will help the country to fortify its defenses and respond more effectively during times of calamities, noting that the locations were considered due to previous history of natural disasters.
“It’s very good because first of all, our security will be protected. These sites are located in the outer portion [of the country], which is different from the five original sites that are in the inner portion. We have more deterrent factor for our naval and air bases,” he noted.
The additional sites will be established on top of the five existing EDCA locations at Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu, and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City.