Manila quietly building US naval base near disputed waters

January 18, 2016 08:29
A Philippine Navy ship is seen in Oyster Bay. A naval facility is being built in waters close to disputed territory to house the US navy. Photo: Inquirer

An existing naval facility off the Philippines' Palawan island is being quietly developed into a military base for US troops.

However, while construction is continuing, there has been no confirmation from local military and civilian officials, the Inquirer reports on its website.

The naval base in Oyster Bay is being developed into a “mini Subic”, a former US naval base north of the capital Manila.

The Subic facility was shuttered together with Clark Air Base in 1992 after the Senate voted to terminate the US-Philippine Military Bases Agreement.

Oyster Bay is close to the islands and reefs that the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, China and Taiwan are disputing.

Previously accessible only by sea from the pier of its local host community, Puerto Princesa’s northern village of Macarascas, Oyster Bay will soon be linked to the urban center by a highway now under construction.

Work on the 12-kilometer access road is being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways Navforwest, the navy's western command.

“The purpose of this road is for easy access of our troops from Oyster Bay to Puerto Princesa, transporting materials for construction of new barracks for our troops and accessibility of Navy ships,” Lt. Ariesh Climacosa, spokesperson for Navforwest, told the Inquirer.

The road is expected to be completed in October.

By then, the base would be less than an hour’s drive from Puerto Princesa.

Some local officials, however, have complained about the “haste” by which the road project was started.

Community Environment and Natural Resources (Cenro) officer Emer Garraez said the project proponent had been cited for bypassing the agency's permit.

He said the project required the clearing of primary forest vegetation to make way for the road.

“They started it without a tree-cutting permit,” Garraez said.

The project, however, received endorsement and approval of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development last year.

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