THE US Government is investing $2.7 million for the construction of a 40,000-gallon fuel storage facility inside the Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base, one of the sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the United States and the Philippines.
US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson, in a press conference Friday, May 19, 2023, told reporters that the construction of the facility is already 28 percent complete and is scheduled for completion either in September or October this year.
“What we are specifically doing at the Mactan Air Base is that we are investing money to build a fuel depot. Two large tanks will be positioned there that will enhance the ability of Philippine aircraft to come in and refuel. That is the specific Edca site within the Mactan Air Base that we are working on in conjunction with the Philippine-US militaries,” said Carlson, who was in Cebu for a three-day visit.
She said it is the Philippine air force that will determine who can fuel up in the facility.
“This fuel depot was identified as a need in the Philippines for refueling to get to the north to south, east to west. ... Once that site is completed, it will enhance the interoperability between US forces and PH forces, but that site belongs to the Philippines,” the envoy emphasized.
Edca, which was established in 2014, is a supplemental agreement to the previous Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the US allowing American troops to access Philippine bases for joint training, pre-positioning of equipment and establishment of facilities.
Besides the Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base, four other existing Edca sites are Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City.
Last April, four additional Edca sites were identified as 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.
Establishing Edca sites in the four areas is seen to boost the country’s defense capabilities as well as disaster response.