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    Philippines Grants US Access To Strategic Bases

    The Philippines and the US took a step forward on Thursday in their historic security alliance by agreeing on access for US troops to four “strategic” bases in the Asian archipelago, a key move in the face of a possible invasion of Taiwan by China and its expansionism in the Pacific.

    “It is an extremely important agreement. It gives us the opportunity to interact in a more effective way,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday at a press conference in Manila with his Philippine counterpart, Carlito Galvez.

    Shortly before, the US Department of Defense had announced the agreement in a statement, after a meeting at the Malacañang presidential palace in Manila between Austin, who has been visiting the country since Tuesday, and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

    The agreement, the text says, “completes” the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Pact (EDCA), signed in 2014 between the two countries and through which the United States could already use five military bases in the Philippine archipelago, key in the pulse between China and the US for influence in the area.

    In this way, US troops would almost double the number of bases they have access to, bringing the total to nine.

    EDCA, the statement said, “is a key pillar of the alliance between the US and the Philippines, which supports mutual training, the development of (military) exercises and interoperability between both Armies. Its expansion will make our alliance stronger and more resilient, and It will accelerate the modernization of our capabilities.”

    “This is especially important, especially as China continues to increase its claims in the Philippine Sea (the South China Sea),” Austin emphasized today, in a speech filled with other more indirect allusions to China and peppered with defenses of “a Free Indo-Pacific”.

    Thus, he assured, for example, that the pact will allow them to “increase their mutual capabilities to resist an armed attack”, at a time when tension is growing in the area in the face of a possible invasion of Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing has not ruled out invading.

    Secrecy About The Location of The Bases

    Neither Austin nor Galvez wanted to reveal this Thursday, in the face of insistent questions from the media, the location of the new bases, while Washington has long been seeking access to various facilities in the north and south of the archipelago.

    Specifically, the northernmost part of the island of Luzon lies around 320 kilometers from southern Taiwan, offering the closest point to the island among US allies in Asia.

    Meanwhile, the southern province of Palawan is close to the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea, which the Philippines disputes with China, a country that in turn claims almost all of these waters, rich in natural resources.

    “We will wait to announce its location until we have carried out all the necessary protocols and consulted the local authorities involved,” Galvez said, adding that the announcement will be made “soon.”

    Galvez played the mistake stating that, “instead of (military) bases, we will call them “sites”, while Austin stressed that the United States “is not looking for a permanent base in the Philippines.”

    Philippine  Foreign Policy Turn

    The agreement confirms the manifest intention of the new Philippine president, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, son of the late dictator of the same name and who was sworn in on June 30, to redirect the focus of Philippine foreign policy, after his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, will bet more on the relationship with Beijing.

    Duterte even temporarily ended the agreement that, since 1999, has allowed the US to maintain a military presence in the archipelago and that provides legal cover for US troops to enter the Philippines for joint maneuvers.

    In addition, the Philippines and the US maintain other more important security treaties, such as the Mutual Defense Agreement, which dates from 1951.

    “Our alliance is stronger. The United States will always be here for us,” Galvez said.

    “We’re not just allies. We’re family,” Austin agreed.

    This article is originally published on

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