MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine military is asking Congress for money to fund initial ground work to implement a 2014 military-to-military agreement with the US.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año asked the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations to provide the P124 million ($2.5 million*) as the country’s “counterpart fund” in its Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States.
The AFP request is a “capital outlay fund” listed as “Construction and Enhancement of Base and Base Support Facilities.”
Año appeared before the committee on Monday, August 14, to defend the budget of the AFP.
EDCA is an agreement which allows the US military to construct facilities and preposition defense assets inside Philippine military bases. (READ: What is EDCA? Look at Zambo’s PH-US joint operations)
“We need to prepare these sites accordingly before the actual construction of these facilites may happen. It is beneficial for our armed forces,” Año told the committee.
The improvements the US military plan to construct in the sites will eventually become properties of the Philippine military, said Año.
Año said 5 Philippine military bases have been identified for the implementation of EDCA. These are:
- Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City
- Camp Bautista in Palawan
- Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija
- Basa Air Base in Pampanga
- Lumbia Airport in Cagayan De Oro
The Philippines negotiated EDCA during the previous administration to seek US assistance in addressing China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea.
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of EDCA amid protests that it was a de-facto basing agreement.
President Rodrigo Duterte has since adopted a foreign policy which is friendlier to China.
The Department of National Defense, which overseas the military, proposed a total budget of P195 billion for 2018, including P50 billion for the pension of retired enlisted personnel. – Rappler.com