The Philippines on April 3 announced the locations of four new military bases the US will gain access to, under an expanded defense agreement. The bases include three on the main island of Luzon, close to Taiwan, and one in Palawan province in the South China Sea (SCS).
The four new sites are Balabac Island in Palawan; Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana, Cagayan province; Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan; and Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela. In a press release, Philippine Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. called the four bases “very strategic,” especially the naval base in Cagayan and the one on Balabac Island.
The new locations, opened up under the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Arrangement (EDCA), will allow the US to rotate troops to a total of nine bases throughout the Philippines, including on the strategically important Balabac Island close to Chinese installations in the SCS.
“These new locations will strengthen the interoperability of the United States and Philippine Armed Forces and allow us to respond more seamlessly together to address a range of shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, including natural and humanitarian disasters,” said Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh during a briefing.
The announcement follows a spate of high-profile US military agreements throughout the region, including plans to share defense technologies with India and deploy new US Marine units to Japanese islands.