Thursday, January 14, 2016

EDCA does not automatically boost numbers of US troops in PHL military exercises -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 14): EDCA does not automatically boost numbers of US troops in PHL military exercises -- AFP

Despite the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) being declared constitutional by the Supreme Court (SC), US forces will not be arriving in the Philippines en masse during scheduled military exercises.

Col. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, said the number of participating US troops in any exercises is dependent on the recommendation of the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB).

"If the assessment of the MDB-SEB (found out that) these are necessary to increase our interoperability then it will be done," he added.

Possible Filipino military bases to be opened under the EDCA include Fort Magsayay in Nueva Ecija; Crow Valley in Tarlac; Basa Air Base, in Floridablanca, Pampanga; Benito Ebuen Air Base in Mactan, Cebu; Camp Lapu-Lapu, Cebu; Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz; Naval Station San Miguel in San Antonio, Zambales, Antonio Bautista Airbase, Puerto Princesa, Palawan; Lumbia Airfield in Cagayan De Oro and Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City.

Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman Dr. Peter Paul Galvez earlier said the EDCA will help boost Philippine maritime security and HADR capabilities.

"The DND welcomes the ruling of our SC declaring EDCA constitutional. With this development that builds upon our mutual defense treaty, we look forward to advancing our defense modernization and strengthening maritime Security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities," he said.

The SC on Tuesday voted 10-4-1, declaring EDCA as constitutional.

It also upheld the position of the government that the EDCA is an executive agreement and does not need the Senate concurrence.

In the same vein, Galvez said this puts the AFP in a better position to improve interoperability with the US military aside from improving its capabilities.

Finalized after eight rounds of talks that began in August 2013, EDCA, which signed in 2014, allows US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities, the right to construct facilities, and pre-position equipment, aircraft and vessels, but rules out permanent basing.

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