Biazon: No need for new law on EDCA

Posted at 05/07/14 8:18 PM

MANILA - Rep. Rodolfo Biazon told reporters Wednesday that legislation is no longer necessary for the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States.

Biazon, a former Armed Forces chief of staff and senator, said the agreement is not political in nature, is not permanent in its implemetation and does not require changing existing national policies.

He said the EDCA only enhances the effectiveness of 3 existing agreements between the Philippines and the United States -- the Mutual Defense Treaty, the Military Logistics Support Agreement, and the Visiting Forces Agreement.

"I think the questions have already been raised, Biazon said. "Is there a need for EDCA considering the gripping aggression of China which puts to risk the lives of our fishermen and soldiers? I say there is."

Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino earlier said up to 5 Philippine military bases will be made available for US forces to rotate aircraft, ships, equipment and troops.

The new 10-year EDCA, which also covers storage of equipment for maritime security and humanitarian assistance, was signed with the United States before President Barack Obama arrived for a 2-day visit to Manila.

"Right now, the discussions would be ranging from three to five Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) bases," said Batino said. "That's not final."

He said the army's jungle training base in Fort Magsaysay, north of Manila, was "ideal location" for the United States because the two oldest allies in the region regularly hold joint exercises there.

Military sources familiar with the discussions said the United States has also requested access to three former US bases -- Clark Field (Pampanga), Subic Bay (Zambales), Poro Point (La Union) -- and Camp Aguinaldo, the military general headquarters in Manila.

The US is also considering whether to seek access to four civil airports - Palawan, Cebu, General Santos, and Laoag - as well as Batanes airfield for refueling and emergency servicing, the sources said. There are also nearby bases in Cebu and Palawan.

Defense and military officials said the new EDCA will boost the Philippines' defence capabilities. - with a report from Reuters