US Allocates Over $66 Million for Construction at Philippine Military Bases

The United States will provide $66.5 million over the next two years for construction projects at Philippine military bases as both nations seek to jointly address security challenges, a Filipino defense official said on Nov. 15.

The projects, part of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), will be implemented at three Philippine military bases beginning next year, Department of National Defense spokesman Arsenio Andolong said.

The EDCA, which was signed in 2014, allows U.S. troops to construct facilities and preposition aircraft and vessels on five Philippine military bases.

Andolong said the projects will include the construction of training facilities, warehouses, and other facilities at Cesar Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Ramon Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, and Lumbia Airport Base Station in Cagayan de Oro.

He reaffirmed his nation’s commitment to implementing projects and exploring new sites to bolster their mutual defense posture. Both sides also agreed to discuss future projects under the EDCA, a state-run news agency reported.

“The Philippines and the U.S. have maintained dialogue to discuss the implementation of the Mutual Defense Treaty and ensure that it remains relevant to address contemporary security challenges,” Andolong said.

Ahead of Harris’s Visit

The announcement comes ahead of a visit by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris to the Philippine island of Palawan on Nov. 22, which will make her the highest-ranking U.S. official ever to visit the island.

Palawan Island lies along the disputed South China Sea, which China claims almost entirely, despite competing claims by other nations.

Harris will meet with her Philippine counterpart, Philippine Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Manila on Nov. 21 to discuss security alliances and economic ties, according to a White House official.

“This visit demonstrates the Biden–Harris administration’s commitment to stand with our Philippine ally in upholding the rules-based international maritime order in the South China Sea, supporting maritime livelihoods, and countering illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing,” the official told reporters.

The United States and the Philippines are allies under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, which stipulates that the countries would defend each other if attacked.

Earlier in September, Philippine envoy Jose Manuel Romualdez said U.S. forces would be allowed access to Philippine military bases during a Taiwan conflict if it was deemed “important” to Philippine security.

“We want to ask both countries to lessen the tension by having more dialogue and then trying to resolve all of these issues because it’s in our part of the world,” Romualdez said in an interview with Nikkei Asia.

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to conquer it by force if necessary. But any attack on Taiwan could threaten Philippine security because of its proximity to Taiwan, which sits on the north side of the Luzon Strait.

From The Epoch Times