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US military gains expanded access to Philippines bases to counter China

Newsman: The Philippines will provide the United States with expanded access to its military bases, the two countries announced. The newly announced deal will give the US access to four more locations under an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) dating to 2014, allowing the US to rotate troops to a total of nine bases throughout the Philippines.

The New deal will provide US forces its expanded presence in Southeast Asia with a greater strategic footing on the southeastern edge of the South China Sea close to self-ruled Taiwan.

“American commitment to the defense of the Philippines is ironclad. Our alliance makes both of our democracies more secure and helps uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Austin said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon in Manila.

According to the Defense Department’s statement, the U.S. military will utilize four new military bases in the Philippines — bringing the total number of bases in use to nine.

The Department of Defense first announced the move, which is widely seen as a way to deter China’s influence in the region, late Wednesday amid a visit to the Philippines by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Austin landed in the capital Manila on Tuesday night and met with Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos and other high-ranking officials ahead of the announcement.

 The pact was initially signed in 2014 but progress has stalled over the years because of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to turn away from the U.S. in favor of Beijing. But when the son of the late president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Bongbong Marcos’s current  government came into power last year ,he promised to revive relations with the United State Bongbong s.

While both U.S. and Philippine officials have taken great pains to not specifically name China, analysts say this bigger footprint could help deter China both from taking action on self-governed Taiwan, as well as contain Beijing’s presence in the South China Sea.

Over the years China has grown increasingly aggressive toward its neighbors in the South China Sea by making what other countries say are excessive claims to territory in the crucial waterway and building military installments across the region — among other actions. Philippine officials say allowing the U.S military to use their bases will help better secure Manila’s interests in the South China Sea.

Many Filipinos have expressed weariness about letting more U.S. servicemen be stationed in the Philippines again. The last U.S. military bases were dismantled in 1992, when a debate over their presence and Philippine sovereignty came to an impasse.

Liza Maza, the general secretary of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, a Philippines-based organization that seeks to coordinate anti-imperialist movements, said her group is opposed to more U.S. military presence in the Philippines because of “past and continuing about violence against women and the LGBT community in relation to the presence of U.S. troops.”

“There have been murders and violations of women’s rights and … and justice wasn’t met,” she said.

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