Major forces moving to Subic Bay

The Philippines plans to relocate major air force and navy camps to Subic Bay, a former US naval base north of Manila, to gain faster access to the West Philippine Sea, according to the country’s defense chief and a confidential government report.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said yesterday as soon as relocation funds are available the government plans to transfer air force and naval forces and their fleets of aircraft and warships to Subic Bay, which has become a busy free port since the 1992 departure of the US Navy.

“It’s for the protection of our West Philippine Sea,” Gazmin told The Associated Press by telephone, using the name adopted by the Philippine government for the disputed South China Sea.

“We’re looking now for the funding,” Gazmin said from South Korea, where he was on a visit.

Subic Bay is a natural deep harbor that can accommodate two large warships acquired recently by the Philippines from the United States, a defense treaty ally, he said, especially compared to shallower waters at the naval fleet base at Sangley Point in Cavite province, south of Manila.

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