Philippines Unlikely to Help US Patrol South China Sea

US aircraft tasked with patrolling the contested South China Sea are unlikely to receive any support from the Philippines, even though the Air Force has stationed aircraft there this year. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday that his country will most likely not let the US use bases in the country to fly freedom of navigation patrols in the region to avoid conflicts with China, according to The Associated Press. The US military has repeatedly stationed aircraft within the Philippines as part of a new rotation for training and some patrols of the sea, including A-10s, C-130s, and Navy Growlers. The Philippines and the US in 2014 signed an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement to increase cooperation, which included airfield improvements for increased US troop rotations. Lorenzana said the Philippines will “avoid that for the meantime” to “avoid any provocative actions that can escalate tensions in the South China Sea,” according to the AP. The statement is the latest in a series of tense bickering between the US and the Philippines, whose President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly signaled his distaste for cooperating with the US.