The US agreed to increase its military aid to the Philippines from US$11.9 million last year to US$30 million in 2012 following rising tensions with China over disputed islands in South China Sea, Reuters reported. The Philippines is giving the US greater access to airfields and may open new areas for US soldiers in a bid to form a stronger alliance. The US agreed to share “real-time” data with Manila on the South China Sea and promised to explore “creative funding streams” to bolster its military. “We hope this is not indicative of the priority placed on the Philippines as a regional partner, as even non-treaty allies appear to be getting a bigger share of the [foreign military financing] allocation,” said Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario. The Philippines received 35% of total US foreign military financing allocated to East Asia this year – down from 70% in 2006 – because Washington has withheld funds on allegations of human rights abuses. The increase comes as the Philippines and China remain locked in a maritime standoff in the disputed South China Sea.