PH to offer ‘underdeveloped naval base’ to US in Oyster Bay
MANILA, Philippines—As the Philippines continues to grapple with heightening territorial row with China, the Philippine military chief is considering to offer the United States an “underdeveloped naval base” near the disputed islands.
“Oyster Bay is still underdeveloped but we need to improve our armed forces perhaps with the Edca [Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement], that can be facilitated and improvement in the Oyster Bay will be made further,” General Emmanuel Bautista, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief said in a television interview Wednesday night.
He said Oyster Bay was important because it will be easier for them to patrol in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), a resource-rich area claimed almost entirely by China. Neighboring countries also have their own claims. The Oyster Bay is 160 kilometers from the Spratly Islands.
Last month, the Philippines and US signed a deal that will allow US troops for wider access to Philippine bases under the Edca.
The naval base in Palawan needs a lot of improvements, Bautista said. “We need to improve the pier, we need to improve living facilities and support facilities. We have allocated funding for that maybe not enough if we want to develop it to be a real base for our navy or bilateral exercises.”
Other bases considered to be offered to US forces include traditional training areas like Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, the biggest military camp in the Philippines, and the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales, a base close to Scarborough Shoal that is also contested by Philippines and China.
There are about 50 military bases nationwide.
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