The US Department of Defense stated that US forces will have access to four additional military bases in the Philippines. The additional access comes under a 2014 agreement known as EDCA that allows US forces to rotate through Philippine bases. It also allows the US military to store defense equipment and supplies at those bases.
According to observers, China’s increasing assertiveness toward Taiwan and building Chinese bases in the South China Sea has given Washington and Manila an impetus to strengthen their partnership. In the process, the two countries are restoring ties severed in recent years: former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte preferred China to his country’s former colonial master. The new government of Ferdinand Marcos is now doing the opposite.
Because of its proximity to Taiwan, cooperation with the Philippines could be critical to the United States in the event of a conflict with China. Recently, a four-star US Air Force general warned that this could happen as early as 2025.
The expansion of EDCA gives the United States access to at least nine military bases in the archipelago. Three of the new bases are on the main island of Luzon — also the Philippine island closest to Taiwan — where the US already has access to two more locations. The fourth new base is reportedly located on the western island of Palawan, opposite the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, bringing the number of sites there to two.
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