By Ashley Manabat / Correspondent
ANGELES CITY—Why not (offer) Sangley for Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) with the US]?
This was the question posed by the Pinoy Gumising Ka Movement (PGKM) on the proposed location of the US facilities to store equipment and supplies under the agreement.
PGKM, a multisectoral cause-oriented group advocating for the immediate and full development of the Clark International Airport (CIA), said Sangley Point in Cavite is an ideal site for Edca, since it is a former US naval base which has a seaport and where an airfield could also be constructed for defense purposes.
“Why is Abaya not suggesting Sangley for Edca?” asked PGKM Chairman Ruperto Cruz, referring to former Cavite Liberal Party congressman and now Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya.
“The former US facility can have a seaport and an airport,” Cruz said.
Sangley Point is in Abaya’s district, and he earlier offered it to San Miguel Corp. for development into an international airport to replace the present Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Metro Manila.
“Why are they telling us what to do by pointing to Clark as a site for Edca?” Cruz asked.
“If they really want a permanent base for Edca, then Sangley is the best location,” he added.
Cruz said Clark and Subic are already declared by law as free ports, and if they will be considered for Edca, there will somehow be some disruptions in their operations.
On the other hand, nothing will be interrupted at Sangley, he pointed out. “The retardation of any development will not happen at Sangley,” he explained.
Cruz said the PGKM has been consistent ever since with its advocacy of a dual airport, because Clark airport is the catalyst for development of not only Central but also Northern Luzon.
“We welcome Edca for our defense but Clark and Subic should be spared,” he said.
Cruz said if there are seven Air Force wings at Clark, then six must go to Sangley and only one should remain for security purposes.
Cruz also clarified that the PGKM is not suggesting other provinces for the Air Force, “just because we don’t want them here.”
Cruz said in the not so distant past, the Americans had said that they would give up Clark but not Subic because the latter has a deep seaport and their requirement for a runway can also be accommodated in Subic.
But the abrogation of the Military Bases Agreement in 1991 has made that moot, he recalled.
Now, because of vested interests, they want to disrupt the economic development of Clark, and Subic, by offering them as sites for Edca, he said.
“Obviously, Abaya has conveniently forgotten Sangley, because he wants to sabotage the development of Clark and Subic,” he said.
Cruz said Sangley Point can be a base for US military purposes for long-term use. The same can also be true with Poro Point in La Union or even Palawan, he added.
Based on reports, the Aquino administration had offered the US eight bases where it may build facilities to store equipment and supplies under Edca.
The facilities offered to the Americans were Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga; Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija; Camp Antonio Bautista and a naval base in Palawan; Camp Benito Ebuen and the naval base in Cebu; Lumbia air field in Cagayan de Oro; and Clark.
The Americans are also seeking access to three civilian seaports and airfields on Luzon, including Subic Bay, which is a former US naval base.