CAGAYAN Governor Manuel Mamba expressed on Monday, February 6, 2023, opposition to the possible establishment of an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) site in his province.
In a television interview, Mamba said he has yet to receive official communication from the national government regarding the matter but he is confident that his constituents would also not agree to make their province an Edca site, noting it is not the interest of their province.
“Anything foreign forces ay hindi po welcome sa atin...and lalong-lalo na kung ito ay para sa away lang ng ibang bansa. Hindi po namin kaaway ang any of our neighbors -- not Taiwan, not China, not Japan, not Korea. Para sa amin po, hindi po namin sila kaaway,” he said.
(Anything foreign forces are not welcome to us... especially if it's just for the fight of another country. None of our neighbors are our enemies -- not Taiwan, not China, not Japan, not Korea. For us, they are not our enemies.)
“Any foreign forces or foreign bases staying in our country, especially kung nuclear power sila, will always be a magnet also for nuclear power attack. We can’t afford to be ganon. Kami, we are willing to die in the field for our country and our province, but not with these foreign [people]. Why should we fight their battles and their wars?” he added.
Mamba said the residents of Cagayan have a good relationship with China, noting the many Chinese businessmen in the province.
If the national government will insist, Mamba said he would ask not to put the site in the mainland but instead on an island in order not to put his constituents’ lives at risk.
Last week, the national government announced the development of Edca, which is to establish four more sites where American troops can have full access to.
In a statement, the US Embassy in the Philippines said the “expansion of the Edca will make our alliance stronger and more resilient, and will accelerate modernization of our combined military capabilities.”
While Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. has yet to divulge the possible sites as they are still coordinating with the respective local government units, it can be recalled that in November 2022, the US military has requested to the Armed Forces of the Philippines the establishment of new Edca sites in its facilities in Cagayan, Palawan, Zambales and Isabela.
The said provinces were near Taiwan and the West Philippines Sea where tensions continue to escalate due to China’s dispute.
Galvez earlier urged the local government units to think not only of the benefits of the additional Edca sites on security but especially on potential investors. (SunStar Philippines)