03 May 2014

Subic will not be part of EDCA – defense official

A defense official on Friday denied that Subic Bay, a former United States Naval base, is being eyed as one of the locations American troops can access under the newly signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

“No. This is for the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” said Defense Undersectary Pio Lorenzo Batino, a member of the Philippine negotiating panel on EDCA.

Batino said defense and military officials are currently coordinating with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) so that portions of Subic, a civilian property, can be turned over to the AFP for its use.

“The AFP is requesting for limited portions of Subic so that it can strategically locate Philippine Air Force equipment, Philippine Navy equipment, kailangan natin yan para sa ating concerns sa area na yun,” he said at a press conference in Camp Aquinaldo.

Batino said they are eyeing to open three to five Philippine military camps for the use of American forces under EDCA, but was mum when asked if Clark airfield in Pampanga, also a former US military base, is one of them.

“Right now, the discussions would be ranging from three to five AFP bases,” he said. “That's not the final but that is the starting discussion point.”

EDCA was signed Monday, hours before US President Barack Obama arrived in the Philippines for his first state visit.

The agreement grants US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities, the right to construct facilities, and pre-position equipment, aircraft and vessels.

But the pact rules out permanent basing, as the Philippine Constitution bans foreign military bases in the country unless covered by a treaty. EDCA as an executive agreement has an initial term of 10 years. (Amita O. Legaspi/KBK, GMA News)