Philippines Announces Four More Military Bases for US Troops

Mon Apr 03 2023
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MANILA: The Philippines has announced the locations of four new military bases that US troops can use to counter China’s increasing assertiveness over Taiwan and its military activities in the disputed South China Sea.

The announcement came after an agreement was reached in February to expand cooperation between the two countries in “strategic areas.” The four new bases will be in addition to the five that the US already has access to in the Philippines.

The sites have been deemed “suitable and mutually beneficial” by the Philippine military and will also be used for relief and humanitarian operations during disasters.

Three of the bases will be located in the northern Philippines, with one being a naval base and airport in Cagayan province, around 400km from Taiwan. Another base will be on Balabac Island, off the southern tip of Palawan Island, close to the South China Sea.

Although Philippine acting defence chief Carlito Galvez has said that the government has already decided on the sites, some local officials have expressed concerns.

Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba has opposed having EDCA sites in his province for fear of threatening Chinese investment and becoming a target in the Taiwan conflict.

President Marcos adopts more US-friendly policy

However, President Ferdinand Marcos has adopted a more US-friendly foreign policy since succeeding former president Rodrigo Duterte last June and has sought to accelerate the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

The EDCA agreement allows US forces to rotate through the bases and also store defence supplies and equipment at them. It was expanded from five to nine bases, but the sites of the four additional bases had been withheld until Monday.

China has criticized the agreement, with its embassy in the Philippines recently stating that it was part of “US efforts to contain China through its military alliance with this country.” The embassy has not yet commented on the announcement of the four new bases.

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