MANILA - A province in the northern tip of the Philippines may allow U.S. troops to use two bases, build facilities and position its weapons there, in line with a defense agreement between Manila and Washington, a local governor said Thursday.
Manuel Mamba, governor of Cagayan, which is about 600 kilometers from Taiwan, a potential hotspot, told Kyodo News by phone that he opposes the presence of foreign troops and warned that hosting the U.S. forces can make the area a "magnet for an attack in case a war erupts."
The two bases are among four additional sites the Philippines granted the United States access to in February under their 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
While opposed to having foreign troops in his areas, Mamba said the decision is ultimately up to the president.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Wednesday that the four additional sites had been selected, and the exact locations will be announced soon. He mentioned one is in Palawan, a western Philippine island facing the South China Sea.
This raises to nine the total number of Philippine military bases the United States may use under the agreement.
China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, where Beijing has maintained a military presence.
Mamba said he was "requested" by the Philippine government not to reveal the exact locations in Cagayan.
Aside from getting caught in a potential crossfire, Mamba fears Cagayan, a largely agricultural province, will lose its trade with China and Taiwan. "I hope that I am wrong. Because if I am right, I'm so afraid of what will happen to my people," he said.