By Jessica M. Bacud
TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – In protest to the construction of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) facilities in the province, about 7,000 Cagayanos gathered at the Freedom Park (Rizal Park) for a prayer rally organized by the Prayer for Peace Cagayan Movement.
Tuao Mayor William N. Mamba expressed his concern over the EDCA sites’ construction, emphasizing the harm it will do to the Cagayano populace.
“We plead for a miracle that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. may alter his mind about EDCA,” Mayor Mamba stressed.
Mayor Isidro Cabaddu of Camalanuigan expressed his displeasure over the development of the US facility, located nearby to them in the town of Lal-lo. He expressed his complete support for Governor Manuel Mamba, who first opposed the sites.
Governor Mamba remarked at the prayer gathering that “EDCA is just war” amid rising tensions between China and Taiwan, which is just 200 kilometers from the province.
“We want Cagayan to be the center of agro-industrial hubs in the international port, not the center of foreign military bases whose clear objective is to enable war between America and China,” he said.
Foreign investors from China, South Korea, Japan, and even Taiwan will be wary of investing in Cagayan out of concern that it will turn into a stronghold in America’s battle, Mamba said.
Mayor Leonel Guzman of the town of Piat said: “My presence alone would be sufficient to show that I oppose EDCA.”
“We were very fortunate we had a governor who can stand for what is right for the province,” he said.
“Thank you for being there, governor, and standing for what you believe is good for every Cagayano,” Mayor Guzman emphasized.
Mayor Nelson P. Robinion, who is worried about the EDCA facility being built in Sta. Ana that US troops would access, gave his support to Governor Mamba.
He noted that a prayer demonstration is set to take place in Sta. Ana.
Robinion bemoaned the fact that, like the governor, he had never been informed of any EDCA intentions or activities in the area.
Board Member Rodrigo De Asis urged each one to pray and stand in solidarity with the governor as he struggles to block US access to the province.
All other officials who spoke publicly expressed their dismay over the EDCA and resistance to its development, stressing the detrimental consequences it will have on the Cagayano populace.
Dr. Susan Perez-Mari from the University of Cagayan Valley, Mr. Christian Tutu Guzman from the Medical Colleges of Northern Philippines, Mr. PJ Lappay from Saint Paul University, a senior citizen’s association representative, and Board Member Christian Ursua from the Sangguniang Kabataan also delivered remarks.
Also included are the barangay officials of Amulung East and Tuao; SB Members of Pamplona, Claveria, and Tuao; delegates from Baggao, Iguig, Piat, and Tuguegarao City; Agkaykaysa Members of Peñablanca Members from Peñablanca.
It includes agriculture sector, women sector, academe civil society group, senior citizen’s group, youth sector, and ecumenical group.
To promote community harmony and peace, Clarita Lunas, one of the convenors, said they planned a prayer rally after learning that two EDCA sites are slated in Cagayan, one at the Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana and one at the Lal-lo Airport.
The organization has announced intentions to hold several “prayer rallies for peace” in various towns.