‘US military transformation’ of Bataan worries lawmaker

US ’ ‘military transformation’ of Bataan worries lawmaker

/ 04:47 PM April 07, 2024

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MANILA, Philippines — The militarization of Batanes Island by the United States could escalate regional tensions in the West Philippine Sea, House Deputy Minority Leader Rep. France Castro warned on Sunday.

In a statement, Castro condemned the “military transformation” of what she described as an “idyllic” island, expressing concern that it could make Batanes a potential target as it could serve as a forward base for the US in the event of conflict involving China and Taiwan.


READ: Batanes eyed among sites of next Balikatan drills


Inter-imperialist war

“If this happens or if China escalates its aggression in the West Philippine Sea then we would be right smack in the middle of an inter-imperialist war, making the Philippines the theater of war in Southeast Asia,” the lawmaker said.

Batanes is the country’s northernmost municipality and nearest to Taiwan.

A previous Inquirer report detailed that two ranking US Army engineers arrived at Batanes on Friday to prepare for the construction of a humanitarian logistics warehouse as part of this year’s “Balikatan” (shoulder-to-shoulder) military exercises between American and Filipino forces.

READ: Batanes as ‘Balikatan’ site: US Army execs arrive to build Warehouse

The Balikatan exercises will be held from April 22 to May 10, with a total of 16,000 troops from both countries expected to participate.


According to Castro, “this development, unprecedented in the history of Batanes, signifies a significant shift from the province’s traditional role as a peaceful and rural area to one with strategic and geopolitical military interests.”


She also stressed the need for a critical assessment of the long-term consequences of such militarization efforts on upholding peace and stability in the region.

Moreover, at least 29 soldiers from the US Department of Defense and the Department of the Army are expected to arrive in Batanes in the coming days while approximately 15 Philippine Army engineers will also participate in constructing the humanitarian and disaster relief warehouse in the island. The construction is expected to continue until June.

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TAGS: Balikatan, Batanes, France Castro

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