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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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“That would represent a return to an outdated Cold War mentality," Hagel said.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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid