Philippines to shortly announce location of new military bases with US
Manila, Mar 22 (EFE).- The president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said Wednesday that his country will soon reveal to which four military bases within the archipelago the United States will have access under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
“We’ll make a formal announcement. But, yes, they have been identified…before I announce it, we will formalize it with our partners in the United States,” Marcos Jr. told the media after attending the 126th founding anniversary of the Philippine army in Taguig City.
“So there are four extra sites scattered around the Philippines. There are some in the North, there are some around Palawan, there are some further South,” he added.
On Feb. 2, the Philippines and the US announced an expansion of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), under which the US will be able to temporarily occupy four new military bases in the Philippines, in addition to the five to which it already has access in the Asian archipelago since 2014, when the pact was inked.
The increased US military presence in the Philippines comes at a time of escalating tensions in the region with China’s increased expansion in the South China Sea, where it is locked in a territorial dispute with Manila over the sovereignty over several islands, and amid growing concerns over the sovereignty of Taiwan.
Although the exact location of the new bases is not yet known, the Philippines has been giving some clues, saying that two of them will be on the northern part of the island of Luzon, just 400 kilometers (249 miles) from Taiwan.
Another will be located in the northwestern part of the island, about 700 kilometers north of the Spratly archipelago, in the South China Sea, disputed by China and countries in the area, including the Philippines, and 800 kilometers south of Taiwan, according to the Philippine army.
China does not rule out invading the self-governing island, which it considers part of its territory and which Washington would in principle defend, so the location of the Philippines has made it a key player in the face of a possible attack on Taiwan.
Beijing has already expressed its misgivings about the agreement and accused the US of endangering regional peace and stability after its military agreement with the Philippines, in a statement published by the Chinese embassy in Manila in January.
For its part, the Philippines, which during the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte (2016-2022) grew closer to China, has changed course after the arrival in power of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last year, seeking to strengthen its historic security alliance with the United States, especially given the increasing harassment of its ships by Chinese vessels. EFE