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Philippines Names 4 New Camps for U.S. Forces

The Philippine government in April 2023 identified four new military camps, including some across the sea from Taiwan, where rotating batches of United States forces may be stationed indefinitely.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said expanding the U.S. military presence from the five existing sites under the longtime allies’ 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement would boost his nation’s coastal defense. 

The new sites include a Philippine Navy base in Santa Ana and an international airport in Lal-lo, both in northern Cagayan province. Those locations have infuriated Beijing because they would provide U.S. forces with a staging ground near southern China and Taiwan. (Pictured: Philippine and U.S. Marines conduct a drill during the bilateral exercise Balikatan in the Philippines’ Cagayan province in March 2022.)

The other new sites are in northern Isabela province and a Navy camp on Balabac Island in the western province of Palawan.

Palawan faces the South China Sea, a global trade route that Beijing arbitrarily claims nearly in its entirety and where it is taking increasingly aggressive actions to threaten smaller claimant states, including the Philippines.

“That’s where more or less U.S. $3 trillion worth of trade passes. Our responsibility in collectively securing that is huge,” said Carlito Galvez Jr., then head of the Philippine National Defense Department.

The four new sites for U.S. forces are “suitable and mutually beneficial” and will be a springboard for humanitarian and relief work during natural disasters and other emergencies, Marcos’ office said.

In a statement, the U.S. Defense Department said the new locations “will strengthen the interoperability of the U.S. and Philippine Armed Forces and allow us to respond more seamlessly together to address a range of shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.”  The Associated Press 

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