By David Vergun
The United States announced plans to expand new military sites in the Philippines under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the two nations, which went into effect on Feb. 1.
The four new sites are Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana, Cagayan; Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela; Balabac Island in Palawan; and Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan, said Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh, who briefed the media today.
The locations already in the agreement are Cesar Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation, Lumbia Air Base, Antonio Bautista Air Base and Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base.
"In addition to the five existing sites, these new locations will strengthen the interoperability of the United States and Philippine armed forces and allow us to respond more seamlessly together to address a range of shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, including natural and humanitarian disasters," Singh said.
The sites will also provide excellent places for joint and combined training and will improve regional readiness, she said, adding that U.S. forces at these sites will be rotational forces. The Defense Department "will work in lockstep" with the Philippine Department of National Defense and armed forces to rapidly pursue modernization projects at these locations, she said.
"The United States and the Philippines have stood together for more than seven decades, unwavering in treaty commitments and our shared vision for a more peaceful, secure and prosperous region," she added.
According to a statement from the State Department today, "U.S.-Philippine relations are based on strong historical and cultural linkages and a shared commitment to democracy and human rights. The 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty provides a strong foundation for our robust post-World War II security partnership. Strong people-to-people ties and economic cooperation provide additional avenues to engage on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues."