Marcos Jr Approves 4 New US Military Bases in the Philippines. PHOTO/Reuters
MANILA – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Wednesday (22/3/2023), four military base new under the defense agreement with the United States (US) will be located in various parts Filipina including in provinces facing the South China Sea.
Last month, Marcos gave the US access to four sites, on top of the five under the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which emerged amid China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea.
“There are four additional locations scattered around the Philippines – some in the north, some around Palawan, some further south,” Marcos told reporters on the sidelines of a commemoration of the Philippine army standing, as quoted by Reuters.
EDCA allows US access to Philippine bases for joint training, equipment pre-position and construction of facilities such as runways, fuel storage and military housing, but it is not a permanent presence.
“The Philippines and the US will announce base locations soon,” Marcos said. He added that the location would enhance the country’s ability to defend the “eastern flank” of its largest island, Luzon. Luzon is the main Philippine island closest to Taiwan.
Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday reiterated its stance that the US side is increasing tensions by strengthening its military deployment in the region, adding countries should be “alert” and avoid being used by the US.
“We generally believe that defense cooperation between countries should be conducive to regional peace and stability, and must not be aimed at third parties or harm the interests of third parties,” spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a regular press briefing.
A former Philippine military chief publicly said the US had requested access to bases at Isabela, Zambales and Cagayan, all on Luzon Island, facing north toward Taiwan, and at Palawan to the southwest, near the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
Several local government leaders in potential EDCA sites have opposed Marcos’ decision, fearing they could be drawn into a conflict if it arises between the US and China over Taiwan.
But Marcos said his government had discussed with them the importance of expanded US access and “why it would really be good for their province”.
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