President Ferdinand Marcos said Monday that the Philippines will not accept “any offensive actions” from the facilities it has opened to US soldiers.
Manila disclosed this week the locations of four more military bases that it will allow the US military to use in addition to the five agreed upon in the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or EDCA.
The agreement permits US forces to circulate through and stockpile defensive supplies and equipment.
Last week, China warned that the extended military agreement could jeopardize regional stability, accusing Washington of a “zero-sum mentality.”
The four new outposts include one near the contentious South China Sea and another not distant from Taiwan.
Marcos described China’s reaction to the extended military agreement as “unsurprising,” but assured them that the Philippines is simply beefing up its territorial defenses. “We will not permit the use of our bases for offensive purposes.”
“This is only to assist the Philippines whenever we require assistance,” Marcos told reporters. “If no one attacks us, they should not be concerned because we will not fight them.” The agreement was put on hold by previous President Rodrigo Duterte, who sought deeper ties with China. However, Marcos, who followed Duterte in June, has pursued a more pro-US foreign policy and pushed to expedite the implementation of the EDCA.
Marcos has stated unequivocally that he will not allow Beijing to violate Manila’s maritime rights.
His words followed China’s third day of war games surrounding Taiwan, in which it simulated “sealing off” the self-ruled island.
China launched the military exercises in retaliation to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last week, which it had warned would result in a violent reaction.