The Philippines is Allowing the US To Increase Its Military Presence
The decision to remove the permanent American military presence in the Philippines was made more than 30 years ago. The United States used to run two significant bases there, but many Filipinos wanted to declare their independence because they believed the bases to be a remnant of American colonialism.
In light of escalating tensions with China, the Philippines is now encouraging the United States to expand its military presence there once more by granting access to four additional military facilities.
The United States already has access to five military bases in the Philippines, including locations in Mindanao, Palawan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and the Visayas. With the acceleration of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, the United States would have access to four more bases.
The U.S. Defense Department stated in a statement on February 1 that the expanded access to more locations "will make our alliance stronger and more robust, and will speed the upgrading of our combined military capabilities." Currently, there are 500 or so American military personnel in the Philippines.
Additionally, the U.S. claimed that the enhanced base access would promote economic growth through foreign investment and job creation as well as "more quick response for humanitarian and climate-related crises in the Philippines."
Although many Filipinos could embrace American presence as a tactical measure to oppose and dissuade Chinese influence and invasions, others might still be cautious of the social repercussions of giving the U.S. military such a great deal of control on their territory.
At a press conference, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III called the development "a major issue," but he also emphasized that it did not indicate the United States was reestablishing permanent American bases on the archipelago.
Early in the 1990s, after the Philippine Senate rejected a pact that would have extended American military presence in exchange for aid, the United States formally ended its 94-year military presence in the region by closing Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base.
According to the Associated Press, the two nations had previously discussed new sites in the northern province of Cagayan, across the strait from Taiwan, as well as in Palawan and Zambales. The locations of the additional military bases that the U.S. will now have access to have not been made public.
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