Philippine is planning to build a naval base on the western coastline of the country, just the opposite side of the disputed Spratly island in the South China Sea, said the top commander of the Philippine army, late on Monday.
China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is thought to be rich in oil and gas, and its speed of reclamation in the area has alarmed its neighbours - Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan - and also the United States.
The Philippine armed forces chief General Gregorio Catapang said once they finished the facility at Oyster Bay on the country’s island of Palawan, they will allow the United States, Japan, and Vietnam to make port calls.
Philippine’s possible plan of developing the island paradise into a military base could annoy China which already controls the majority in the disputed waters.
"We feel this is the number one priority because of the emerging security situation," said Catapang.
"As soon as we have the money, we will pour resources there.”
In late April, China said its reclamation in the Spratlys aimed to provide civilian services such as weather forecasting, and search and rescue facilities that would also benefit other nations, but General Catapang claimed turning such facilities into major military bases would not be a problem for China.
During Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Washington visit last month, the US President Barack Obama accused China of using its power to push around smaller nations in the South China Sea and advance its maritime claims. He also pledged Japan protection in case of any Chinese threat in the region.
Philippine is having financial problems to build such facilities in the region, but Japan, which is helping Manila to boost its maritime capabilities, might find the project effective against the Chinese threat.
Catapang also said the US has asked Philippine to access its military in order to rotate US troops, aircraft, and warships as its policy to bring more forces to Asia.
The cooperation between Philippine and Vietnam is also growing in the region against China.
Security ties between Philippine and Vietnam are also growing in light of China's aggressive reclamation in the disputed sea.