Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is an agreement between the United States and the Philippines intended to bolster the U.S.–Philippine alliance. The agreement allows the United States to rotate troops into the Philippines for extended stays and allows the U.S. to build and operate facilities on Philippine bases, for both American and Philippine forces.[1] The US is not allowed to establish any permanent military bases.[2] It also gives Philippine personnel access to American ships and planes.[1]

Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement
SignedApril 28, 2014 (2014-04-28)
LocationManila, Philippines
Parties Philippines
 United States

The EDCA is a supplemental agreement to the previous Visiting Forces Agreement. The agreement was signed by Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg in Manila on April 28, 2014.[3] On January 12, 2016, the Philippine Supreme Court upheld the agreement's constitutionality in a 10–4 vote.[4] On July 26, 2016, the Philippine Supreme Court ruled with finality that the agreement is constitutional.[5]

Evan Medeiros, the U.S. National Security Council’s senior director for Asian affairs was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, "This is the most significant defense agreement that we have concluded with the Philippines in decades."[6]


For more than a century, the Philippines has been important to American defense strategy. Currently, the Philippines is a "major non-NATO ally" of the United States.[6]

The U.S. acquired the Philippines from Spain after the Spanish–American War of 1898 and then fought the Philippine–American War against Philippine revolutionaries to secure their rule. After both wars, the Philippines was a territory of the United States from 1898 to 1946. The United States granted the Philippines independence in 1946.[7]

The Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in 1951 and ratified in 1952 by the governments of the United States and the Philippines. The purpose of the Treaty was to "strengthen the fabric of peace" in the Pacific, by formally adopting an agreement to defend each other's territory in the case of external attack.[8] In line with this treaty, the United States maintained several military bases in the Philippines, including Subic Bay Naval Base and the Clark Air Base. In 1992, the bases closed after the Philippine Senate rejected, by a close vote, a treaty that would have extended the bases' lease. The treaty was rejected because of U.S. reluctance to set a firm time frame for troop withdrawal and to guarantee that no nuclear weapons would pass through the base.[9]

The Philippines–United States Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) was signed by the governments of the Philippines and the United States in 1998, and came into effect in 1999. This was the first military agreement since the closing of U.S. bases in 1992. The VFA outlined a set of guidelines for the conduct and protection of American troops visiting the Philippines. The Agreement also stipulated the terms and conditions for American military to pass through or land in Philippine territory. The VFA is a reciprocal agreement in that not only does it outline the guidelines for U.S. troops visiting the Philippines but also for Philippine troops visiting the United States.[10]

The signing of the VFA led to the establishment of annual bilateral military exercises between the U.S. and the Philippine known as Balikatan, as well as a variety of other cooperative measures.[11] The Balikatan training exercises ("shoulder-to-shoulder") are annual military exercises between the U.S. and the Philippines. They are structured to maintain and develop the security relationship between the two countries' armed forces through crisis-action planning, enhanced training to conduct counterterrorism operations, and promoting interoperability of the forces.[12]

Over the years the exercises have expanded to include other surrounding countries in Southeast Asia. The trainings have also had a shifting focus. During the U.S.-led "War on Terror" the annual Balikatan Exercises focused on training for counterterrorism missions.[12] There has been some controversy over these exercises; a growing number of Philippine people are angry over the continued presence of U.S. troops in the Philippines.[13]

US Marines assist in Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts, November 2013

Disaster relief and crisis response has since become an important focus of the U.S.–Philippine security relationship especially following Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), and is a key impetus of the EDCA agreement.[citation needed] The United States Marines were among the first to arrive in the Philippines after the devastating typhoon hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013. At the immediate request of the Philippine government, U.S. and international relief agencies arrived three days after the storm to provide aid and assistance to the thousands of injured and homeless.[14] The United States government provided over $37 million in aid.[15]

Summary of the agreementEdit

According to Ambassador Goldberg, the goal of the EDCA is to "promote peace and security in the region." While outlining new defense-cooperation measures, the agreement also allows for the United States to respond more quickly to environmental and humanitarian disasters in the region.[16]

Designed to supplement the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement, the EDCA reaffirms mutual cooperation between the United States and the Philippines to develop their individual and collective capacities to resist armed attack by: improving interoperability of the two country's armed forces, promoting long-term modernization, helping maintain and develop maritime security, and expanding humanitarian assistance in response to natural disasters.[17]

The agreement allows for U.S. forces and contractors to operate out of "agreed locations," which are defined as: "facilities and areas that are provided by the Government of the Philippines through the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and that United States forces, United States contractors, and others as mutually agreed".[17] The Agreement hands over all operational controls of these "Agreed Locations" to the United States, and allows U.S. forces to preposition and store defense materiel, equipment, and supplies. The Agreement makes clear that this materiel cannot include nuclear weapons.

The EDCA is effective for an initial period of ten years, and thereafter, it shall continue in force automatically unless terminated by either Party by giving one year's written notice through diplomatic channels of its intention to terminate the agreement (Article XII, Sec. 4 of EDCA). While the US forces may exercise operational control, put troops and equipment, construct facilities, and be accommodated in certain agreed locations, the Philippines shall still retain ownership of the agreed locations (Article V, Sec. 1 of EDCA). Importantly, the United States is not allowed to establish any permanent military bases, and must hand over any and all facilities in the "agreed locations" to the Philippine government upon the termination of the agreement.[18]

The agreement also stipulates that the U.S. is not allowed to store or position any nuclear weapons on Philippine territory.[2]

Agreed locationsEdit

In April 2015, the United States Government asked for access to eight bases in the Philippines, including the formerly American Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Base, as well as bases on Cebu, Luzon, and Palawan.[19]

On March 19, 2016, the Philippines and the United States government agreed on the 5 locations of military bases for the American troops under the EDCA: Antonio Bautista Air Base (Palawan), Basa Air Base (Pampanga), Fort Magsaysay (Nueva Ecija), Lumbia Airport (Cagayan de Oro), Benito Ebuen Air Base (Mactan, Cebu).[20]


In January 2019 the United States and the Philippines officially completed the first major project under the EDCA at Cesar Basa Air Base in Pampanga province, north of Manila. The United States and the Philippine government are working on future EDCA projects at four other locations - Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija province north of Manila, Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro province in the southern Philippines, Antonio Bautista Air Base in Puerto Princesa in Palawan, and Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu province.[21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Dizon, Nikko (December 13, 2015). "Filipinos asked: Who do you want on your side?". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, "Q&A on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement" Official Gazette, April 28, 2014
  3. ^ Guinto, Joel; Talev, Margaret; Mattingly, Phil (April 28, 2014). "U.S., Philippines Sign Defense Pact Amid China Tensions". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  4. ^ Postrado, Leonard (January 13, 2016). "EDCA prevails". Manila Bulletin. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  5. ^ Merueñas, Mark (July 26, 2016). "It's final: SC affirms legality of EDCA". GMA News. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Juliet Eilperin, "U.S., Philippines to sign 10-year defense agreement amid rising tensions" The Washington Post, April 28, 2014
  7. ^ "Philippines: A Country Study" Federal Research Division, U.S. Library of Congress
  8. ^ The Avalon Project, "Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines; August 30, 1951" Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library
  9. ^ David E. Sanger, "Philippines Orders U.S. to Leave Strategic Navy Base at Subic Bay" The New York Times, December 28, 1991
  10. ^ "Visiting Forces Agreement" U.S. Department of State, 1998
  11. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions: Visiting Forces Agreement" Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement
  12. ^ a b Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, "PH-US Balikatan Exercises to Start in May" Armed Forces of the Philippine, April 21, 2014
  13. ^ Sandy Araneta, "Student activists protesting Balikatan deface US embassy seal" The Philippine Star, April 17, 2012
  14. ^ Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Kenneth Lewis, "Marines Provide Disaster Relief in the Philippines" U.S. Department of Defense, November 11, 2013
  15. ^ "Fact Sheet: U.S. Response to Typhoon Haiyan" The White House, November 19, 2013
  16. ^ Ankit Panda, "US-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement Bolsters 'Pivot to Asia'" The Diplomat, April 29, 2014
  17. ^ a b "Document: Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement" Official Gazette, April 29, 2014
  18. ^ "Q&A on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement". gov.ph. Department of Foreign Affairs (Philippines). April 28, 2014. Official Gazette
  19. ^ "US seeks access to Philippine bases as part of Asia pivot". Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. Reuters. April 25, 2015. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  20. ^ "US, Philippines agree on 5 base locations under EDCA". The Philippine Star. March 20, 2016. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  21. ^ "Philippines, U.S. eye 4 more projects under Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement". xinhuanet.com. January 30, 2019.

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