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US to spend $100 million to upgrade Philippine military facilities – diplomat

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Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said yesterday that the plan is to complete the six projects by the end of the year.

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin congratulates Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Manila, Philippines, February 2, 2023.

Credit: DOD photo by Chad J. McNeely

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The country’s foreign secretary confirmed yesterday that the United States plans to spend more than $100 million to upgrade nine Philippine military bases it has access to under a 2014 security agreement.

In February, the two nations agreed to expand the scope of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) to four additional military facilities, in addition to the five identified in 2016, all of which have been earmarked for US-funded upgrades.

“To date, the US has allocated a total of more than US$100 million for EDCA projects,” said Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo. said yesterday during an investigation by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He said this includes an additional $18 million that the US announced during the 2+2 ministerial talks of the two countries last weekend in Washington. The talks, which brought together US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Philippine counterpart Manalo and Defense Chief Carlito Gálvez Jr., were the first such meeting to take place since 2016.

Signed in 2014, the EDCA allows the US military to use facilities such as runways to move troops and pre-position military material through select Philippine military facilities. Manalo told the Senate that the investment from Washington “will cover projects in both existing and newly agreed locations.”

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Four additional sites announced in February are located in strategically important parts of the country: three of them in Luzon, adjacent to the Taiwan Strait, and on Palawan Island, which lies close to disputed parts of the South China Sea.

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The top-line figures offered by Manalo aren’t new — the $82 million for the five initial bases was announced last year, and the supplemental $18 million follows last week’s meeting in Washington — but Manalo cited the status of the upgrade. Gave some hints.

He told the committee that out of the 16 projects approved for the initial five EDCA locations, there has been significant progress in eight. Of the eight projects, six are expected to be completed by the end of the year. These include a $25 million runway rehabilitation project at Basa Air Base in Pampanga, which began last month. It also includes a storage facility at Mactan Air Base in Cebu and a humanitarian disaster relief warehouse at Fort Magsaysay in Luzon. Upgradation of the four newly designated EDCA sites is likely to begin in a short time.

The expansion of EDCA and the influx of US funds into these signals rapid progress in the US-Philippine alliance over the past year, which has reversed, and even surpassed, the reverses that occurred under the previous administration. . Rodrigo Duterte. After taking office in July 2016, Duterte took a stand against his US alliance and steered the pro-US nation into closer ties with the likes of China and Russia.