According to Reuters news agency on February 3, the Pentagon and the Philippine Department of Defense agreed to resume joint patrols in the South China Sea. The information came shortly after the visit to Manila by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
In a joint statement released on February 2, the Pentagon said the resumption of joint patrols was aimed at “addressing security challenges”.
A senior Philippine official said the issue of joint patrols in the South China Sea “came up at the last minute” during discussions between the two countries’ defense ministers.
Officials also announced an agreement that gives the US military access to four other bases in “strategic areas” in the Philippines. The location of these bases has not been announced yet.
Regarding joint patrols in the East Sea, the two sides will continue to discuss issues such as patrol locations, frequency and which forces will participate in the coming time.
“Of course, everything will go into the details. So technically, if we don’t ultimately agree on how to proceed, things won’t work out,” a Philippine official told the airline. AFP news agency on February 3.
The United States and the Philippines signed a mutual defense treaty in 1951, ahead of Washington’s most important current allies in Asia, Japan and South Korea.
Following the withdrawal of troops from Subic Bay in 1992, the Visiting Forces Agreement of 1998 and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) of 2014 became the legal basis for the rotating US military presence in the Philippines. .
Defense and security cooperation between the United States and the Philippines has stagnated under President Rodrigo Duterte, who advocates economic closeness to China.
This has fractured the long-standing alliance between the two countries and the new President Ferdinand Marcos is looking to mend with the US.
Beijing’s growing assertiveness over Taiwan and the construction of bases in the South China Sea has given Washington and Manila new impetus to strengthen their alliance.
China, which has always opposed the increased presence of Western countries in the South China Sea, has not yet commented.