U.S. and Philippine Marines conduct live-fire sniper training during the Balikatan annual training exercise. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joey S. Holeman, Jr.
MANILA, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- The United States plans to spend $66 million to construct military facilities in the Philippines under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or EDCA, is an agreement reached in 2014 between the United States and the Philippines aiming to strengthen strengthen ties and bolster the defensive capabilities of the Philippines. The plan was discussed by U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg during the Pandesal Forum, which took place in Querzon City.
"Let me point out that we have about $66 million in foreign military funding in process for the Philippines and we expect that there will be additional sources of funds for both carrying out EDCA to military construction funds and also to increases in what we call the maritime security initiative," Goldberg said.
Goldberg noted the new plans did not include the construction of a new military base, as the EDCA doesn't allow for that. Any new facilities constructed under the EDCA are to remain under Philippine ownership. Current plans instead focus on developing the Philippines' maritime patrol by establishing a National Coast Watch Center. Goldberg also said the United States was open to conducting joint patrols in the South China sea with the country's armed forces.
"EDCA is designed to support what the Philippines is trying to do in terms of building a minimum credible defense, in terms of modernizing and equipping its armed forces," he said.
Japan and Australia are also involved in the effort to strengthen the country's military.
The announcement of the earmarks come as the EDCA has been met with criticism. Press TV reports dozens of Filipino protestors took to the streets in Manila calling for an end to the security agreement with the United States, saying the cooperation threatens their country's sovereignty.