The US is poised to reach an agreement with the Philippines to open as many as four military sites to counter increasing threats from China.
The move is part of Washington’s efforts to expand its strategic footprint in the Asia Pacific as Beijing ramps up its military presence in the South China Sea.
Two of the proposed military facilities will be situated on the northern island of Luzon to give US forces a “strategic advantage” in case of a conflict in Taiwan or the South China Sea.
The sites would also facilitate cooperation on national security concerns and rapid disaster response, according to a report by The Washington Post.
Both countries have reportedly done extensive work over the past few months to evaluate military sites in the country.
An official announcement is expected this week as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Increased Military Cooperation
US-Philippines relations became strained when former President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end the Visiting Forces Agreement that provided legal protections to the US military in Manila.
However, when Marcos was elected, he made it clear that the Southeast Asian nation needed to step up its military capabilities amid growing security threats.
Manila even canceled an agreement to purchase heavy-lift helicopters from Russia and considered buying their US counterpart.
Earlier this year, the allies vowed to strengthen defense cooperation and the transfer of technology to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Washington also agreed to host a “maritime dialogue” with its Asian partner this year to identify potential joint maritime activities.