Philippine bases for visiting American troops identified, one near disputed South China Sea
MANILA ? The American forces who will be visiting the Philippines under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) will be using five military bases in the country, one of which is near the disputed South China Sea.
A joint statement released after the sixth Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Washington listed the five bases as the Antonio Bautista Air Base in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City, and Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.
The Antonio Bautista Air Base is located near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
“The two sides discussed proposals to support the United States’ efforts to help modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines, develop capacity and capability for maritime security and domain awareness, and provide rapid humanitarian assistance,” the joint statement read.
US Department of State spokesperson John Kirby said the agreement is an indication of Washington’s efforts in increasing its rotational and expeditionary capabilities in the Asia Pacific Region.
“It’s very much in keeping with that. I can’t speak for another nation and how they might react to this, but I can tell you that there’s nothing offensive or provocative with respect to any of the military capabilities that are permanently based in the Asia Pacific region or are going to be rotationally based in the Pacific region,” Kirby said during a news briefing. A transcript of the news conference was posted on the website of the US State Department.
Kirby is not aware if other locations are still under discussion.
The latest development came amid tensions between Beijing and Manila over disputed territories at the West Philippine Sea, also known as the South China Sea. Emmanuel Tupas/DMS