News / Asia

US, Philippines Reinforce Defense Ties

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, right, shakes hands beside U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, center, during his visit at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines, Aug. 30, 2013.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, right, shakes hands beside U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, center, during his visit at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines, Aug. 30, 2013.
Simone Orendain
The U.S. Defense Secretary is in the Philippines, talking to top officials about plans to reinforce defense ties. Meanwhile, there are signs that Manila’s rift with China over territorial disputes is growing wider.  
 
Chuck Hagel rounded out his visits to Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei in Southeast Asia this week with a stop in the Philippines where he met with the Philippine president and defense minister.
 
Washington and Manila are currently hammering out guidelines that would see more U.S. troops rotating in and out of the Philippines.
 
At a joint news conference of the defense ministers at the Presidential Palace in Manila, Hagel reiterated the U.S. position that Washington does not seek permanent bases in the Philippines.
 
“That would represent a return to an outdated Cold War mentality," Hagel said.  "Instead we are using a new model of military-to-military cooperation, befitting two great allies and friends.”
 
Both sides have said the increased visits would mean more joint exercises and easy access to and storage of equipment.  For the U.S., the increased rotations would strengthen its foothold in the region as it turns its military, diplomatic and economic sights on Asia.  The new U.S. focus on Asia comes as the Philippines modernizes its own military and seeks to bolster its “minimum credible defense posture.
 
Earlier this week, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista, fresh from a visit with his U.S. counterpart, said the Philippines’ goal is to “leverage alliances” to create a security environment that would make any outside threat “hesitate” before trying to encroach on Philippine territory.
 
The Philippines does not directly name China when it talks about external threats but the two countries have been locked in a diplomatic row in recent years over what the Philippines calls intrusions by Chinese surveillance and military ships into its claimed territories in the South China Sea.  
 
It has filed dozens of diplomatic protests and has a pending arbitration case with a United Nations tribunal.  
 
The Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday that China has asked that President Aquino not go to the China-ASEAN expo in Nanning next week and that he should come at a “more conducive time.”  Philippine officials downplayed the apparent snub saying it was not a withdrawal of a personal invitation to the president. However, because the Philippines is a “country of honor” at this year’s expo it had been expected that the head of state would attend, as is custom.
 
China has reiterated that it has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.  The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims in the resource-rich sea.  The U.S. has repeatedly said it remains neutral on the competing claims.
 
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Bautista says the Philippines, which has heavily focused on internal security threats for decades, is looking to improve external capabilities especially in maritime security and surveillance.
 
At the Palace briefing, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the Philippines was ready to be a host to U.S. forces.
 
“As soon as the framework agreement is complete, we will provide the necessary access to all these facilities," Gazmin said. "This is not limited only to Subic, but to [other] Philippine military facilities, if necessary.”
 
U.S. and Philippine negotiators on the increased U.S. rotations are holding their second meeting later Friday in Washington.  
 

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs