MANILA— President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. told US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III that the superpower must be involved in partnerships most especially the country is "traversing troubled waters."
Austin is visiting the country for the second time to reaffirm Washington's "deep commitment to working in concert with allies and partners to chart our shared vision to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific," the Pentagon earlier said.
"As we traverse this rather troubled waters, geopolitical waters, economic waters that we are facing, I again put great importance on that partnership, specifically with the United States and all partnerships and alliances that we are able to make with our friends around the world," Marcos said.
"I have always said, it seems to me that the future of the Philippines and for that matter, the Asia Pacific, will always have to involve the United States simply because those partnerships are so strong and so historically embedded in our common psyches," the Chief Executive added.
He also described this as an "advantage to both our countries."
This comes as the Philippines and the US are expected to announce 4 more military bases in the country to "accelerate the full implementation" of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
"The United States has allocated over $82 million toward infrastructure investments at the existing five sites under the EDCA, and is proud that these investments are supporting economic growth and job creation in local Philippine communities," a statement from the US defense department read.
Weeks earlier, Manila and Beijing agreed to set-up "direct communication lines" regarding issues in the West Philippine Sea as China continues its aggression in the disputed waters.
Beijing claims almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade pass annually. Along with the Philippines, rival claimants are Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
China has ignored a 2012 ruling from a UN-backed tribunal that its claim is without basis.
In recent years it has built artificial islands on reefs while constructing military facilities and airstrips.
The Philippines has also repeatedly accused Chinese coastguard and maritime militias of harassing and attacking fishing boats and other vessels in the region.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse