MANILA — The Philippines announced Monday four additional locations that will host visiting American troops under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), sites that the country said will boost its disaster response as they would also be used for humanitarian and relief operations during emergencies and natural disasters.
The four locations inspected and assessed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) include the Naval Base Camilo Osias in Sta Ana, Cagayan; Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo, Cagayan; Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela and Balabac Island in Palawan, all in the main island of Luzon, according to a statement from the Philippine officials.
The four additional sites will be scattered around the Philippines, but the main goal is to defend the country’s eastern coast, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said, noting the Philippines’ continental shelf on Luzon’s eastern side was also put into consideration.
Marcos spoke with officials of local government units that are not keen on hosting U.S. forces and equipment to explain the importance of the EDCA sites, he said.
The EDCA sites will not be American military bases, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said last month. Filipino and American officials have already agreed to the four new sites.
The sites are planned for use as storage and warehouse facilities for military logistics.
Marcos granted U.S. troops access to four more Philippine military camps on top of the five existing locations under the EDCA in February,
Filipino and American troops are also scheduled to hold their largest-ever military exercise this April.
The Pentagon said the new locations will strengthen the interoperability of the U.S. and Philippine Armed Forces and allow them to respond more seamlessly together to address a range of shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, including natural and humanitarian disasters.
“The Department of Defense will work in lockstep with the Philippine Department of National Defense and Armed Forces to rapidly pursue modernization projects at these locations,” reads a Monday Pentagon statement.
“The Department intends to expand funding on top of the $82 million we have already allocated toward infrastructure investments at the existing EDCA sites. In addition to supporting Alliance commitments, these investments will also spur economic growth and job opportunities in their respective provinces,” it added.