(MENAFN) Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has confirmed plans to build four new military bases "scattered" around the country, with at least one to be located near a disputed island chain claimed by China and several other nations. The bases are part of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US, which was first unveiled last month. While Marcos offered additional details about the new installations, he said he could not reveal their exact locations until a formal announcement is made alongside the US.
The new bases will help defend the Philippines' largest island, Luzon, with one to be situated near Palawan, which is around 200 miles east of the disputed Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea. Six countries have laid claim to parts of the small island chain, including China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines. The US has rejected China's claims as "unlawful."
The move is likely to further escalate tensions between the Philippines and China, which have been at odds over territorial disputes in the South China Sea for years. The US has been supporting the Philippines in its disputes with China, with the two countries conducting joint military exercises in the region.
The decision to build new US military bases in the Philippines also highlights the ongoing geopolitical competition in the region, with China seeking to expand its influence and the US seeking to maintain its military presence to counter Chinese aggression. It remains to be seen how China will respond to the new bases and whether tensions in the region will escalate further.
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