With an agreement between Washington and Manila in February, the United States will have access to four military locations in the Philippines. On Monday, the Philippines made the announcement.
The plan to locate three Philippine bases in northern regions has angered China. The Chinese government is concerned these locations might be a springboard to attack Taiwan. The U.S. will be allowed to use Lal-lo Airport and Naval Base Camilo Osias in Cagayan Province, located in the province’s northern part. Isabela, home to Camp Melchor Dela Cruz, will soon be open to US troops.
The island province of Palawan in the South China Sea will also be within the United States military’s reach. These oceans are significant tension between the United States and China since both claim them. The United States will be granted access to Balabac Island, which marks Palawan’s southernmost point.
The United States now has access to nine bases in the Philippines, thanks to adding these two locations to the five previously used bases. The expansion in the Philippines is a vital part of the United States more significant attempt to bolster its military capabilities in the region in anticipation of a future clash with China.
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Arrangement (EDCA), agreed upon by Washington and Manila in 2014, allows the United States greater access to the Philippines and authorization to develop military installations there. This expansion is part of the United States’ larger military footprint in the region. The EDCA was based on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which authorizes the presence of US troops in the Philippines.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s decision to allow American expansion reflects a sharp break with the policies of his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, who vowed to abolish the VFA and force US soldiers out of the country over US penalties on Filipino officials tied to the nation’s drug campaign.