American and Filipino soldiers hold their respective flags during a ceremony to mark US Veterans Day at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Nov 11, 2022. (PHOTO / AP)
MANILA – A decision by the Philippines to grant the United States greater access to its military bases was "not for engaging in war" but meant to enhance its ability to defend itself against external threats, its defense chief said on Thursday.
"The geopolitical situation is becoming more precarious by the day," Carlito Galvez, office-in-charge of the defense ministry, said in a statement.
EDCA allows US access to Philippine bases for joint training, pre-positioning of equipment and building of facilities such as runways, fuel storage and military housing, but not a permanent presence
"We are not preparing for war, rather we are aiming to develop our defense capabilities against eventualities and threats to our security," he added.
READ MORE: Philippines grants US greater access to bases
His statement came a day after some senators and a provincial governor raised concerns and opposition to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr's decision to give the United States access to four more sites, on top of five locations under a 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or EDCA.
EDCA allows US access to Philippine bases for joint training, pre-positioning of equipment and building of facilities such as runways, fuel storage and military housing, but not a permanent presence.
Galvez has not publicly identified the sites that would be opened to US access. He said EDCA and its defense partnerships "are not intended for aggression."
ALSO READ: Philippines urged to resist US expansionism, proxy war
A former Philippine military chief had said the United States had asked for access to bases in Isabela, Zambales and Cagayan, all on the island of Luzon.