China has "advised" the Philippines to oppose Taiwan independence instead of offering the US access to its military facilities near the Taiwan strait, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said on Friday.
This, Huang said, if the Philippines cared for the 150,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Taiwan.
“The Taiwan question is entirely China’s internal affair, as is the Mindanao issue to the Philippines. You will never allow any third party to meddle with resolving rebel issues in Mindanao,” Huang said on Raffy Tima's report on "24 Oras".
"Philippines is advised to unequivocally oppose ‘Taiwan Independence’ rather than stoking the fire by offering the US access to the military bases near the Taiwan Strait if you care genuinely about the 150,000 OFWs,” he added.
The envoy reiterated that the US intends to use the additional Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites to push for its own interests and agenda “at the expense of peace and development of the Philippines and the region at large.”
Signed in 2014, the EDCA grants US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities and allows them to build facilities, and preposition equipment, aircraft, and vessels. Permanent basing is prohibited.
The five existing EDCA locations are Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu, and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City.
The new EDCA sites designated by the two sides are in Balabac Island in Palawan and in Naval Base Camilo Osias in Sta Ana, Cagayan; Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo, Cagayan; and Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela which are both near Taiwan and Benham Rise.
The last three are in the northern portion of Luzon, closer to Taiwan.
“Obviously, the US intends to take advantage of the new EDCA sites to interfere in the situation across the Taiwan strait to serve its geopolitical goals, and advance its anti-China agenda at the expense of peace and development of the Philippines and the region at large,” Huang said.
GMA Integrated News has reached out to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and Malacañang.
US Embassy reacts
Asked for comment on Huang's remarks, the US Embassy said, "EDCA sites will support combined training exercises and interoperability between US and Philippine forces to ensure that we’re even better prepared for future crises."
"EDCA is a key component the US Philippine alliance, and is not about any other third country," the US Embassy said.
The DFA earlier said the establishment of the military bases would be beneficial to local communities while President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the EDCA sites will not be used for any offense.
Meanwhile, former National Security Adviser Prof. Clarita Carlos proposed a new measure.
“We move away from the concept of ownership. No one owns the airspace, the lands, and the seas. Then we'll find solutions and the solutions will come from us, the scientists,” she said. —Sundy Locus/NB/KG, GMA Integrated News