The US has agreed to ramp up the Philippines’ military capabilities over the next five to ten years as part of a “security sector assistance roadmap” that will see the Philippines receive equipment from radars, military transport aircraft and drones to coastal- and air-defense systems, as concerns rise over China’s growing presence in the region.
The two countries also committed to regularizing combined maritime activities, including between their navies, emphasizing that their 1951 mutual defense treaty applies to “armed attacks on either nation’s armed forces or public vessels anywhere in the South China Sea.”
The US and the Philippines also discussed plans to conduct maritime activities with like-minded nations in the region later this year and spoke of opportunities to expand operational coordination, particularly with Japan and Australia, including through trilateral and multilateral exercises and the continuation of the Japan-Philippines-U.S. Trilateral Defense Policy Dialogue.
The US and the Philippines have signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) that allows the US access to Philippine bases for joint training, pre-positioning of equipment and building of facilities such as runways, fuel storage and military housing, but not a permanent presence. The US is expected to boost its allocated spending for EDCA sites to more than USD 100 million by the end of 2023, up from a previous USD 80 million.
(Sources: Reuters; The Japan Times)