The United States and Philippines will announce new sites as soon as possible for an expanded Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), said U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.
EDCA allows U.S. access to Philippine bases for joint training, pre-positioning of equipment and building of facilities such as runways, fuel storage and military housing, but it is not a permanent presence.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last month granted the United States access to four military bases, on top of five existing locations under the 2014 EDCA.
On February 2, the U.S. and the Philippines announced a deal that would give the U.S. access to four more military bases in the Southeast Asian country.
Expanding the 2014 EDCA sites in the Philippines has alarmed experts. Mario Ferdinand Pasion, director of the Phil-BRICS Strategy Studies, said that expanding the EDCA sites in the Philippines will put the country in danger.
Pasion said the Philippines must learn from the countries destroyed by U.S. military occupation and interference, such as Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iraq.
Rigoberto Tiglao of the Manila Times warned that allowing more U.S. military presence in the Philippines "endangers" the Philippines' national security and economy, and that a strengthened EDCA might bring "severe economic backlash."
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning also denounced the move at a regular press briefing, saying that the U.S. side holds on to the zero-sum mentality and keeps strengthening military deployment in the Asia-Pacific.
"This would escalate tensions and endanger peace and stability in the region," said Mao.
(With input from Reuters)