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FACT CHECK: PH has 9 EDCA sites, not 19


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FACT CHECK: PH has 9 EDCA sites, not 19
The five original EDCA sites were identified in 2016; four more were added in 2023, and no additional sites have been reported since then

Claim: There are 19 sites in the Philippines under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), a defense deal that allows the US to access Philippine military bases. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim can be found in a March 9 post on the Facebook account of former broadcaster Jay Sonza, which garnered around 3,100 reactions, 391 comments, and 275 shares as of writing. 

The post says the following about EDCA sites: “Si Apo Bonget [referring to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.] kasi, imbes na manatiling walang pinapanigan ay pinili nitong magpauto kay ulyaning Joe Biden at halos ipamigay ng libre ang may 19 na EDCA sites at maging aso ng America sa South China Seas.”

(Apo Bonget, instead of remaining neutral, chose to be fooled by the senile Joe Biden and almost gave away for free 19 EDCA sites and became a US lapdog in the South China Sea.)

A similar claim of there being 19 EDCA sites in the Philippines can also be found in a March 7 post on X (formerly Twitter).

The facts: There are currently only nine EDCA sites in the country as of writing, not 19.

The five original EDCA sites agreed upon in March 2016 are the following:

  • Antonio Bautista Air Base (Palawan)
  • Basa Air Base (Pampanga)
  • Fort Magsaysay (Nueva Ecija)
  • Lumbia Air Base (Cagayan de Oro)
  • Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base (Cebu)

On April 3, 2023, four more EDCA sites were added, bringing the total to nine. These are:

  • Naval Base Camilo Osias (Santa Ana, Cagayan)
  • Lal-lo Airport (Cagayan)
  • Camp Melchor Dela Cruz (Gamu, Isabela)
  • Balabac Island (Palawan)

Since then, there have been no further reports about additional confirmed EDCA sites. 

Defense cooperation: The Philippines and the US signed EDCA in 2014, which allows the US to preposition defense assets and construct facilities in local bases. The deal, however, does not allow the US to construct a permanent base in the Philippines. (READ: What you should know about the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement

The two countries identified the five military bases under EDCA in 2016. In February 2023, Manila and Washington announced their decision to expand EDCA areas after earlier agreeing to strengthen military ties amid rising tensions with China.

In a statement in April 2023, the US said the additional four EDCA sites “will strengthen the interoperability of the United States and Philippine armed forces.” The Philippines’ defense department also said the new EDCA sites aim to strengthen the country’s defense and maritime security.

Previous related fact-checks: Rappler has fact-checked false claims about EDCA: 

Rappler has also fact-checked several false claims from Sonza since 2018. – Percival Bueser/ Rappler.com 

Percival Bueser is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. You may also report dubious claims to #FactsFirstPH tipline by messaging Rappler on Facebook or Newsbreak via Twitter direct message. You may also report through our Viber fact check chatbot. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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