Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. José Manuel Romualdez announced that the Philippines will allow the American military to its bases in the event of a conflict with Taiwan
“If it is important for us, for our own security,” the ambassador added.
Romualdez, who has family ties to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said his country is in talks with Washington to increase the number of Philippine military bases that can be used by U.S. forces.
The bilateral Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed in April 2014 and valid for 10 years, allows the United States to maintain a rotating military presence in five Philippine bases.
“Our military and the United States military are investigating what the possible areas are. Additional bases may include a naval base” Romualdez said.
The agreement planned for the construction and improvement of military installations, but under the government of former President Rodrigo Duterte, operations slowed down.
President Marcos shows a firmer position regarding the defense of the interests of his country, in opposition to the policy of rapprochement with the Chinese Communist Party of Duterte.
This was announced in his first speech in July: “I will not preside over any process that abandons even one square inch of the territory of the Republic of the Philippines to any foreign power.”
This could refer to China taking the islands located in the south of the China Sea, which according to the 2016 judgement by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague belong to the Philippines.
On August 6, in a meeting between Marcos and the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, they reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to defend the Philippines against any attack in the South China Sea. Blinken said: “We are committed to the Mutual Defense Treaty. We are committed to working with you on shared challenges.”
This comes amid the CCP’s increasingly aggressive deterrent operations against Taiwan, including live-fire naval and military maneuvers and extending into the Philippines exclusive economic zone.
The maneuvers intensified with the visit to Taiwan of the U.S. Speaker of House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, in a show of support for the country’s democracy.
The CCP claims sovereignty over Taiwan and affirms its right to govern it, even by the force.
An open conflict between China and Taiwan would directly affect the Philippines, given its proximity.
An open conflict between China and Taiwan would directly affect the Philippines, given its proximity. Both countries share a maritime border in front of the Luzon Strait. The Luzon Strait is the strait between Taiwan and Luzon island of the Philippines. The strait thereby connects the Philippine Sea to the South China Sea.
The ties between the Philippines and the United States began with the Spanish-American War in 1898, when the United States took possession of the Spanish dominions in the Pacific, which included the Philippines.
After fighting together against the Japanese occupation of the islands in World War II the Philippines gained its independence in 1946, while maintaining a strong American military presence on its territory.
In 1951, the first Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) was signed, in which both countries agreed to support each other in the event of external aggression.
With Duterte in charge of the Philippines between 2016 and 2022, relations became tense after statements Duterte made in which he announced his separation from the U.S., while strengthening ties with the Chinese Communist Party.
“In this place, your lordships, in this place, I announce my separation from the United States,” Duterte told a group of Chinese and Filipino businessmen at a forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, which was attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
He then added: “Both in the military, not maybe social, but the economy as well. America has lost.”
With Marcos taking the presidency and after the meeting with Blinken, the ties have strengthened again.
Economic and cultural ties are also very strong. The English language is the second official language in the Philippines and both state administration and education are part of the American heritage. American companies have invested more than $4.7 billion in the country.
The red tide expands
The Hague Court in 2016 ruled in favor of the Philippines in the dispute over the control of the Spratly, Islands which covers an area of more than 162162.9 square miles in the South China Sea.
The islands are controlled by several neighboring countries, along with some other reefs and rocks.
On one of the islands of the archipelago, the CCP built a military and naval base just 163 miles from the Philippines, that is, within 200 nautical miles of its Exclusive Economic Zone, according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The CCP refuses to ratify the court ruling and claims the entire area, continuing harassment maneuvers.
In 2021, more than 200 Chinese fishing boats were grouped within the disputed area, which was taken by Philippine authorities as a clear provocation.
The Defense minister accused the CCP of wanting to occupy more area and demanded a withdrawal of the “maritime militia” from Philippine waters.
There are not just a few cases of intimidation by the regime.
In 2019, a Philippine fishing boat with 22 sailors on board sank in the disputed area after a Chinese ship hit it. The sailors were rescued by a Vietnamese ship.
Fox News reported: “Chinese ships have previously blocked or intimidated Philippine military and civilian vessels in Reed Bank and Second Thomas Shoal, where Philippine Marines keep watch aboard a long-abandoned Philippine Navy ship while being constantly monitored by Chinese Coast Guard ships in a years-long standoff.