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“That would represent a return to an outdated Cold War mentality," Hagel said.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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid