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US plans $128 million budget for PH Edca projects

One of the Edca locations is in Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu

By: Frances G. Mangosing, Melvin Gascon - | April 15,2024 - 11:49 AM

This photo shows an aerial view of Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan province, northern Philippines on August 3, 2023. The Lal-lo Airport is one of the additional sites for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca)

This photo shows an aerial view of Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan province, northern Philippines on August 3, 2023. The Lal-lo Airport is one of the additional sites for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the Philippines and the United States. JAM STA ROSA/ POOL/AFP

WASHINGTON, DC — The United States plans to give $128 million to the Philippines for military facilities where Americans have access.

US President Joe Biden asked the US Congress to allocate the money for 36 projects under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca), according to a readout of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III’s meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on April 12 (US time),

The proposed budget “would more than double the amount that DoD (Department of Defense) has invested in Edca infrastructure since the inception of the agreement.”

The projects and their locations were not disclosed.

Washington has so far allocated $109 million for previous projects related to Edca, a key military pact signed in 2014 that allows the US military to build facilities and preposition supplies, equipment and materiel inside strategically located bases in the country.

The first five Edca locations were Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro, Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, and Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu.

Last year, Manila gave Washington access to four new locations, including 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.

‘Capability gaps’

In March, US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Christopher Lowman was in Manila to discuss “capability gaps” in Edca sites with Philippine defense officials, according to the Department of National Defense.

Assistant Secretary for Logistics, Acquisition and Self-Reliant Defense Posture Joselito Ramos raised issues on logistics, transportation, resupply, overhaul and maintenance for the Edca sites during the meeting.

These sites are expecting “a large number of logistical assets” for the upcoming Balikatan exercises in April, the biggest military drills by both countries, according to Ramos.

The $66-million upgrade of the runway at Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga, is the biggest project so far under Edca that could accommodate larger and heavier planes for Philippine and US military operations, including fighter jets and transport planes.

Marcos was in the United States last week for the first trilateral meeting between the leaders of the Philippines, United States and Japan on the sidelines of the state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año also held their inaugural 3+3 meeting with their American counterparts Austin, State Secretary Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, where they discussed ways to deepen coordination against shared challenges in the South China Sea.

READ MORE: Edca: US spends $2 million for fuel depot in Mactan, Cebu air base


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TAGS: Congress, Joe Biden, military, President Joe Biden, USA

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