Philippines announces location of four more US military bases
The Philippines announces the location of four additional military bases to be used by US troops, with one site near Taiwan.
Four more US military bases will be located in the Philippines, two of which will be close to Taiwan and one will be near the South China Sea, in an effort to offset alleged Chinese "increasing assertiveness toward Taiwan" and its construction of bases in the South China Sea. The long-standing treaty allies decided in February to increase their cooperation in "strategic areas" of the nation.
The 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, known as EDCA, provided the US forces access to five bases in the Philippines.
It was increased to nine, but until Monday, the locations of the four new bases were kept secret while the government conferred with local authorities.
The Presidential Communications Office issued a statement stating that the four sites had been examined by the Philippine military and found to be "suitable and mutually beneficial." It added that the bases would be used for humanitarian and relief operations during disasters.
Moreover, a US official confirmed that the locations announced by the palace were the new EDCA sites. The statement said that three of the sites are in the northern Philippines, including a naval base and airport in Cagayan province and an army camp in the neighboring province of Isabela.
The naval base at Cagayan province's Santa Ana is about 400 kilometers (250 miles) from Taiwan. Another location will be on Balabac Island, which is close to the South China Sea and is off the southern point of Palawan Island.
Because he feared it would endanger Chinese investment and make his province a target in a conflict over Taiwan, Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba openly opposed the establishment of EDCA sites in his region. However, Philippine acting defense chief Carlito Galvez told reporters recently the government had "already decided" on the sites and that Mamba had agreed to "abide with the decision".
The agreement permits the rotation of US soldiers through the bases as well as the storage of defense supplies and equipment there.
Under former president Rodrigo Duterte, the agreement came to a standstill. However, President Ferdinand Marcos, who took office in place of Duterte in June, embraced a more pro-US foreign policy and worked to hasten the EDCA's implementation.
The agreement has drawn criticism from Beijing, which recently claimed that it was a result of "US efforts to encircle and contain China through its military alliance with this country," its embassy in the Philippines said.