USA to have new military bases in Philippines
Amid rising tensions with China in the South China Sea, USA signed a deal with the Philippines allowing for a rotating US military force to be present in five Philippine bases. Amy Searight, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence, said that the deal was signed under a 2014 Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement that allows USA to increase its military presence in the Philippines.
In 2012, China unilaterally expelled Philippine fishermen from Scarborough Shoal claiming that it was part of China's sovereign territory. Although China has had territorial claims in the South China Sea in the past, Philippines said that the takeover of Scarborough Shoal was "the last straw". Consequently, the Philippines initiated arbitration in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2013, thus escalating tensions.
The US had had permanent military bases in the Philippines, a former US colony, for 94 years. In 1991, the Philippine Senate voted to end US military presence in the Philippines.
USA and the Philippines signed the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement for 10 years, which would allow the US to deploy its troops on a "temporary and rotational basis". Philip Goldberg, the US Ambassador to the Philippines, said that the agreement would "promote peace and security in the region" by allowing US and Philippine forces to respond quickly to threats and disasters.
Nearly 2 years after the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was signed, the Philippine Supreme Court finally upheld the defense agreement with the United States as constitutional. Although the agreement did not receive unanimous support in the Philippine Supreme Court, the court voted 10-4 to uphold the constitutionality of the agreement. The Supreme Court's decision became a significant development for the US-Philippine alliance.
After an annual US-Philippines strategic dialogue, a joint statement listed the sites of the US military bases. The US forces will occupy the Basa Air Base north of Manila, Fort Magsaysay in Palayan, Lumbia Air Base in Mindanao, Antonio Bautista Air Base, close to the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, and Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu.