• The lineup of Philippine officials attending the meeting includes Defense Chief Carlito Galvez, Jr. and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo
  • They will be received by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
  • The meeting will take place after the announcement of four new EDCA sites such as Camilo Osias Naval Base, Camp Melchor dela Cruz, Balabac Island and Lal-lo Airport

Philippine defense officials and their U.S. counterparts are set to meet in Washington next week following Malacañang's announcement of four new sites for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) earlier this week.

The four new sites mentioned in Monday's announcement are Camilo Osias Naval Base in Santa Ana, Cagayan; Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela; Balabac Island in Palawan and Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan.

Defense Chief Carlito Galvez, Jr. said the Philippine officials, including himself and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, will be received by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, as per the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The new sites will be an addition to the five existing EDCA sites, such as Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija, Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro.

The additional sites come amid China's increasing assertiveness over Taiwan, continued incursions in the West Philippine Sea and construction of bases in the South China Sea.

Despite the near doubling of EDCA sites, the U.S. said it is not creating permanent military bases in the Philippines. Rather, the military sites are for "supporting combined training, being able to respond to natural disaster, humanitarian disasters in the region," Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh earlier said.

Signed in 2014, EDCA allows U.S. troops access to Philippine bases for joint training, military housing, fuel storage, pre-positioning of equipment and building of facilities such as runways.

Earlier this week, China expressed its opposition regarding the increased presence of U.S. Armed Forces in the Philippines and asked nations around the South China Sea to "think carefully" about the issue.

"Will increased U.S. military deployment in one's country or the region truly help protect sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability or rather cause grave irreparable consequences?" China's foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said in a briefing on Thursday, as reported by the Philippine Star.

"Regional countries need to think carefully about this," she added.

Mao was reacting to Galvez, who earlier said the new EDCA sites would help the Philippines improve collective defense in the region, guard sea lanes of commerce and protect its national interest.

US troops are allowed to rotate through and also store defence equipment and supplies at so-called EDCA sites in the Philippines