DEFENSE officer in charge Carlito Galvez said that the United States had earmarked $100 million or over P5.5 billion for the acquisition of medium-lift helicopters.
According to Galvez, these will be used for the Philippines’ disaster response as well as non-combat operations
This will be used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
He also said that the US also increased to US$100 million the funding for the Philippine military facilities.
Such facilities may be used by US forces under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
“I am also pleased to share the US pledge of $100 million or P5.5-billion modernization assistance in this regard, which will be utilized for the acquisition of HADR-configured medium-lift helicopters for the disaster response and non-combat operations of our Armed Forces,” Galvez said in a statement.
“The US has also increased the funding for the development of the EDCA sites from $82 million to $100 million, which is equivalent to another P5.5 billion. This brings the total of the US’s pledge of support for the HADR helicopters and EDCA projects to P11 billion,” he added.
According to Galvez, the projects under the EDCA sites, it will be used for the warehousing and storage of humanitarian assistance and disaster response-related material.
It is scheduled for completion by the end of 2023.
Presently, there are five EDCA locations located at the Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu, and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City.
Earlier, the Philippine and US officials announced the designation of four additional EDCA sites: the 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.
“As part of our efforts to prepare to respond to contingencies, the four additional EDCA sites are expected to serve as points for the evacuation of overseas Filipino workers in the event of a flare-up in the region’s flashpoints,” Galvez said.
“Our defense attachés have been working and coordinating with their host countries on possible repatriation operations, which can be undertaken with our US allies, should the need arise,” he added.
Catherine R. Cueto