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“That would represent a return to an outdated Cold War mentality," Hagel said.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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More