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Philippines Strengthens Military Capability, Infrastructure on Islands Near Taiwan

The directive issued by Philippine Secretary of Defense Gilberto Teodoro also entails an intensified focus on infrastructure development on Batanes Island in the north, located approximately 200km from Taiwan.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — In an action deemed by Beijing as “igniting the flames of hostility in the region,” the Philippines has directed its military forces to increase troop presence on its northernmost island, which shares a border with Taiwan.

The directive issued by Philippine Secretary of Defense Gilberto Teodoro also entails an intensified focus on infrastructure development on Batanes Island in the north, located approximately 200km from Taiwan.

 Teodoro made these remarks during his visit to the remote island on February 6.

“Starting from this year, the operational tempo for the Philippine Armed Forces will be heightened,” he stated, according to a statement released by the Philippine Armed Forces on February 6.

The Bashi Channel, situated between Batanes Island, the Philippines, and Taiwan, is characterized as a “choke point” for ships transiting from the western Pacific to the South China Sea.

Batanes
Distance between Batanes Island and Taiwan

 

 According to the Taiwan Ministry of Defense, Chinese military often deploys warships and combat aircraft through the Bashi Strait.

In November of the previous year, the Philippine and United States military conducted joint patrols in the northern waters of the Philippines, using Batanes Island as a launch site, according to the Philippine Secretary of Defense.

In August, the United States military was reported to be in discussions with the Philippine government to develop a port on Batanes Island, expected to enhance the country’s military access to the island facing Taiwan.

China considers Taiwan as part of its territory and is committed to reclaiming the island, either peacefully or through the use of military force.

 In an effort to expedite the implementation of the defense cooperation agreement between Manila and Washington, the Philippine government agreed to grant access to four additional military bases to the United States.

The increased access of Philippine military bases to the United States comes amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing regarding issues in the South China Sea and Taiwan.

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The four new locations granted access to the United States are Camilo Osias Naval Base in Sta Ana, Cagayan; Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan; Melchor Dela Cruz Base in Gamu, Isabela; and Balabac in Palawan.

Camilo Osias Naval Base in Sta Ana, Cagayan, and Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan are approximately 500km from Kaoshiung, Taiwan, while Balabac in Palawan is intended to address Chinese military movements in the Spratly Islands.

The United States and the Philippines stated their commitment to accelerate the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), opening up four additional Philippine military bases to the United States.

This recent agreement expands U.S. access to Philippine military bases to a total of nine, compared to the previous five.

The five Philippine military bases previously granted access to the United States are Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro, and Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu.

 Most of these bases are located in the northern part of the Philippines, in close proximity to Taiwan.

Having access to military bases in the northern and southern regions of the country provides strategic advantages to the United States in the event of conflicts in the South China Sea or Taiwan. — DSA

To contact email: lulwabyadah@gmail.com  

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