Filipino people’s money used to construct US military bases

This article is available in PilipinoBisaya

So-called “EDCA sites” or US military bases are rapidly being constructed using public funds of the Filipino people and employing its minions in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Last week, Defense Sec. Gilbert Teodoro and AFP chief Romeo Brawner themselves went to Lal-lo, Cagayan, to speed up the “upgrade” of civilian airfields to serve as refuelling stations of US jet fighters. To make it appear that the facilities will be used for Philippine purposes, these supposedly will also be used by AFP airplanes.

In Palawan, the expansion of airfields and other military facilities in Balabac Island is in full swing since March 11. Despite being a US facility, funds amounting to ₱174.62 million for the Balabac Military Runway came from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) under its TIKAS (Tatag Imprastraktura para sa Kapayapaan at Seguridad or infrastructure building for peace and security) program.

The island is located on Balabac Strait, which are regular sea routes of both US and Chinese ships. The US will use the runway and the entire island to monitor Chinese ships. The US will use the runway and entire island in the same way that China uses its facilities in the airstrips illegally built within the Philippine sovereign seas.

In addition to airfields, the DPWH also funds the construction of a command and control center worth ₱18.32 million. DPWH funds likewise will be used for expansion and dredging of the harbour on the opposite side of the island to serve large US war ships. Costs are estimated to reach $5.5 million ₱308 million). In accordance with EDCA provisions, these facilities will be placed under US extraterritorial control, which Filipinos can enter or inspect if the former “agrees.”

In Cebu, TIKAS also provides funds to build a hangar in Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base, one of the first five “EDCA sites.” The construction was inaugurated on August 11. A fuel depot for US war planes in the said airbase is being built simultaneously. The project is worth ₱111.29 million.

Earlier, the TIKAS program also funded the construction of hangars and various infrastructure and facilities at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, another “EDCA site.”

The TIKAS Convergence Program allowed the use of the DPWH funds to build military infrastructure. This was done in exchange for military “protection” for DPWH construction projects in “conflict-ridden” areas.

The program was launched by then president Rodrigo Duterte to fatten the military bureaucracy. Ferdinand Marcos Jr beefed it up further in May. The fund is on top of the “capital outlay” for buildings and other infrastructure already included in the budget of the defense department.

Meanwhile, US war games continue to be conducted in the Philippines, using the country’s land, airspace and seas. The 6-day Pacific Airlift Rally 2023 held at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga, Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, and at Ebuen Air Base in Cebu ended last August 19. Fourteen countries participated.

The war game purportedly serve “humanitarian assistance” and “disaster relief operations.” However, it had nothing to do with actual relief operations over the recent disasters in many parts of the country due to intense rains, floods and damage brought about by typhoon Egay and the southwest monsoon.

At the height of the disaster, American forces at the “EDCA sites” took no part in “humanitarian operations”. They only made a show of distributing 1,200 food packs and 56 solar panels as “aid” for typhoon victims in Fuga and Calayan Islands. This was done by the US after the Cagayan governor scoffed at the gross indifference of the US to the people’s plight due to the storms.

Filipino people’s money used to construct US military bases