Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin says US troops are ready to bring their equipment to the Philippines and build their military facility, first in old Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro City.
Gazmin, who was in the city earlier this week to attend the 46th Founding Anniversary of the army’s 4th Infantry Division, said that construction to upgrade the city airport will start within the year.
The Lumbia airport, the city’s old commercial airport, is now under the control of the 10th Tactical Operations Group of the Philippine Air Force, though the land belongs to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines-Department of Transportation and Communication.
Gazmin said that the Lumbia airport is one of the selected sites agreed upon by the Philippine government.
Under the EDCA, US forces are allowed to set up storage facilities and station forward personnel to maintain such facilities. These facilities must be being use by the Armed Forces of the Philippines
EDCA policy allows the US military to station an unlimited number of troops, US military contractors, warships, fighter planes, arms including nuclear arms, without payment to the host government.
Gazmin further noted that since the country’s weakest point is air defense system, the Americans will install at least 3 batteries of MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile defense system around the province.
The Patriot System replaced the Nike Hercules system as the U.S. Army’s primary High to Medium Air Defense (HIMAD) system, and replaced the MIM-23 Hawk system as the U.S. Army’s medium tactical air defense system. In addition to these roles, Patriot has been given the function of the U.S. Army’s anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system, which is now Patriot’s primary mission.
The planned US Military presence in the island is not welcome news to the Communist Party of the Philippines though.
Cesar Renario, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front-Northern Mindanao warned that the presence of US forces in Lumbia town would be disastrous for the city.
The US Military is expected to start building their facilities within a year according to Gazmin.