Philippines calls Subic Bay ‘strategic’ for US military operations amid South China Sea dispute
Philippine officials said military operations at a former US naval base in Subic Bay should resume amid rising tensions with Beijing over the South China Sea dispute and threats to Taiwan.
The US and the Philippines plan to expand their military partnership amid growing rivalry between Washington and Beijing.
Speaking to Nikkei Asia, Rollen Paulino, head of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, said the proximity of Subic’s deep harbor to both the South China Sea and Taiwan makes it an ideal choice for military operations.
“It’s very strategic,” he said. “It’s only an hour away from Taiwan. It’s about 30 minutes away from the F-14.”
Officials in the Philippines believe that as the threat from China continues to grow, especially after the spy balloon incident over the United States, Subic Bay could be one of the military bases that Washington could use. However, Paulino said officials at a “higher level” would make the final decision.
The naval base at Subic Bay, once the largest military base in Asia for the US, has been closed for more than 30 years. The Philippines Navy also has a base in Subic Bay.
The US and the Philippines are working together to reestablish military strength in light of China’s tough efforts to take control of disputed islands in the South China Sea.
The US was granted access to four more military posts in January by Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., bringing the total to nine. The locations of the new sites have not been made public.
China has made frequent efforts to militarize and reclaim islands in the South China Sea. This has raised concerns for the Philippines and other neighboring countries.
Recently, the defense chiefs of the US and the Philippines discussed “related developments” in the South China Sea.
“Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Carlito Galvez, the Philippine official in charge of the Department of National Defense, today to discuss developments in the South China Sea, including a recent incident involving the People’s Republic of China (PRC) “A military-grade laser has been directed at the crew of a Philippine Coast Guard vessel, which has been lawfully operating around the Second Thomas Shoal,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
“Secretary Austin underscored the United States’ commitment to supporting the legitimate rights and operations of the Philippines in the South China Sea,” the Pentagon said.