At approximately 1830 EST yesterday, Philippine President Marcos arrived at Andrews Air Force Base for a series of meetings with the Biden Administration over a 5-day official visit.
Watch: President Ferdinand Marcos Jr arrives in the United States for a 5-day official visit pic.twitter.com/g1DtlIhzUT
— Pia Gutierrez (@pia_gutierrez) April 30, 2023
The White House Press Corps was briefed on the particulars of the state visit yesterday, of which the transcript was released at 0500 this morning. The most pressing items on the docket for this visit are enhanced security agreements. The White House statement reads below:
“In terms of specific outcomes for this — for the meetings, we’re looking forward to announcing a new set of bilateral defense guidelines that will deepen our alliance cooperation and interoperability across operational domains, including land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace.
We’re also looking to celebrate the identification of the additional sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, known as EDCA, and that this will strengthen Philippine security and support Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization goals. It will also drive U.S. investment in local communities across the Philippines and will increase our shared ability to rapidly deliver humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
I will also be announcing a series of steps to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization, including transferring of three C-130 aircraft subject to consultation with Congress. Also, we’ve transferred a number of Cyclone-class coastal patrol vessels that are on their way to the Philippines now. And we did that earlier this month.
And I think that, you know, our view is these transfers will support the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program by significantly enhancing its maritime and tactical capacity. We’re looking to also transfer some additional patrol vessels, and stay tuned for that.”
This follows the April 4th, 2023 announcement that the Philippines granted the U.S. military access to four new areas to establish bases: Balabac Island in Palawan; Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana, Cagayan province; Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan; and Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela. These bases are meant to increase U.S. presence in the region in the face of an increasingly belligerent China in the South China Sea, which directly challenges Filipino claims.
These basing agreements allow the U.S. to distribute its forces from Guam and Hawaii as the Chinese missile threat now threatens the traditional “Iron Mountain” strategy the U.S. has traditionally followed regarding naval pre-positioning of forces before conflict. After the loss of Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base under the Clinton Administration, the U.S.’ presence in region collapsed, arguably paving the way for Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.
Now the U.S. must play catch-up as China’s blue water navy allows them to project potent power inside the First Island Chain.