News / Asia

Will New Defense Pact Impact US Support for Philippines in Sea Disputes?

FILE - U.S. and Philippine Navy servicemen aboard patrol boats conduct a boat manoeuvre exercise past a fishing boat during a joint annual military exercise called "Carat" at the former U.S. military base Sangley Point in Cavite city, west of Manila, June
FILE - U.S. and Philippine Navy servicemen aboard patrol boats conduct a boat manoeuvre exercise past a fishing boat during a joint annual military exercise called "Carat" at the former U.S. military base Sangley Point in Cavite city, west of Manila, June
Simone Orendain
The newly signed defense agreement between the Philippines and the United States is widely seen as a boost for the Philippines’ military at a time of increased tensions with China.

But analysts say the extent of U.S. support remains ambiguous, making it unclear how the pact might affect future confrontations between Manila and Beijing.

The so-called “Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement” will open Philippine bases to more U.S. troop visits, pave the way for additional bi-lateral military exercises and augment the Philippines information-gathering abilities at sea.

It also allows for U.S. forces to store vessels, aircraft and military equipment at select Philippine installations for the next 10 years.  
 
Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research head Rommel Banlaoi says the training in sea surveillance will be crucial.
 
“Access to information in the maritime domain can help the Philippines avoid any accident in the sea, that might escalate tension in the South China Sea,” he said.
 
Banlaoi sees the maritime-related portions of the agreement as a boon for the country’s underfunded military as it prepares for conflicts in the heavily contested sea, seen by many as a serious potential flashpoint in Asia.

Maritime squabbling

The Philippines and China are squabbling over who owns outcroppings in the South China Sea.  Manila has filed an international arbitration case questioning Beijing’s claims to practically the entire sea.

The Philippines says the contested rocks are well within its 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.  But Beijing says that based on ancient maps, it has “indisputable sovereignty over South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters.”  It has rejected the arbitration case.
 
Spratly Islands, China Sea Territorial ClaimsSpratly Islands, China Sea Territorial Claims
x
Spratly Islands, China Sea Territorial Claims
Spratly Islands, China Sea Territorial Claims
Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the sea, which is abundant in marine life, believed to hold vast hydrocarbon reserves and is a major trade route.
 
Two years ago the two countries were in a months-long standoff at Scarborough Shoal, which is about 225 kilometers west of the Philippine province Zambales.

The encounter ended when Chinese surveillance ships permanently based themselves at the shoal, keeping local fishermen out.
 
Banlaoi says having maritime domain awareness skills will help the Philippines avoid such confrontations in the future.
 
The American military equipment could also come into play. According to the defense pact, although all of the prepositioned hardware will be for the exclusive use of American troops, it could be used to enhance both sides’ defense capabilities.
 
Unclear commitment

But it remains unclear under what circumstances U.S. forces in the region would come to the Philippines aid in the event of another confrontation in the South China Sea. Under their mutual defense treaty, the U.S. would defend the Philippines metropolitan area and its military if they are under threat of attack.

 
FILE - U.S fighter jets on standby on USS George Washington aircraft carrier while the USS Cowpens passes by, in the South China Sea, 170 nautical miles from Manila, Sept. 2010.FILE - U.S fighter jets on standby on USS George Washington aircraft carrier while the USS Cowpens passes by, in the South China Sea, 170 nautical miles from Manila, Sept. 2010.
x
FILE - U.S fighter jets on standby on USS George Washington aircraft carrier while the USS Cowpens passes by, in the South China Sea, 170 nautical miles from Manila, Sept. 2010.
FILE - U.S fighter jets on standby on USS George Washington aircraft carrier while the USS Cowpens passes by, in the South China Sea, 170 nautical miles from Manila, Sept. 2010.
​Security analyst Carl Thayer of the Australia Defense Force Academy says the Philippines expects some sort of deterrent by having American troops around.
 
“But deterrence only works if the party providing deterrence is willing to act.

Once the bluff is called and the U.S. doesn’t act, its credibility is undermined.

But the U.S. doesn’t want to put its credibility on [the line] for every barren rock on the South China Sea that’s contested, because it doesn’t take sides,” he said.
 
The United States has refrained from weighing in on the merits of various countries’ territorial claims in the South China Sea, saying it supports talks among the involved nations to resolve disputes.
 
Thayer says much of the territory at the heart of the dispute is likely not covered by the mutual defense treaty because it was signed in 1951, before the Philippines started laying claim to the reefs and rocks.

 
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to military troops at the Fort Bonifacio Gymnasium in Manila, Apr. 29, 2014.U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to military troops at the Fort Bonifacio Gymnasium in Manila, Apr. 29, 2014.
x
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to military troops at the Fort Bonifacio Gymnasium in Manila, Apr. 29, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to military troops at the Fort Bonifacio Gymnasium in Manila, Apr. 29, 2014.
During President Barack Obama’s speech before a few hundred U.S. and Philippine troops in Manila Tuesday, he said America’s commitment to defend the Philippines is “ironclad.”
 
At the Philippines Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research institute, Banlaoi says Obama’s statement is true, as a matter of policy.
 
“But when it comes to operations, I don’t think it’s automatic.  Because there is no automatic retaliation clause in the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty,” he said.
 
Obama "Evasive"


Richard Heydarian, a Manila-based Asia geopolitical analyst, says President Obama remained “evasive” on whether that commitment would apply to an armed conflict in the contested sea and the Philippines should not assume Washington will intervene in the next standoff with China.
 
FILE - U.S. President Barack Obama speaks next to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III during a joint news conference in Manila, Apr. 28, 2014.FILE - U.S. President Barack Obama speaks next to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III during a joint news conference in Manila, Apr. 28, 2014.
x
FILE - U.S. President Barack Obama speaks next to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III during a joint news conference in Manila, Apr. 28, 2014.
FILE - U.S. President Barack Obama speaks next to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III during a joint news conference in Manila, Apr. 28, 2014.
“Relying on America to push back China seems to be a not very viable option.  And that is why the Aquino administration should be very careful in how it deals with China in the coming months.

Because after the Philippines decided to file the memorial on March 30th against China, the Chinese have been very much enraged,” he said.
 
China had a muted response to the signed defense agreement, calling on all sides to continue efforts to maintain peace and stability.
 
Representatives from the Chinese, Philippines and U.S. militaries are all expected to participate in RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) drills near Hawaii in July. It will mark the first time Chinese forces participate in the annual exercise.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Taichi Robinhood
May 03, 2014 5:31 AM
Aquino is riding on the back of the American tiger and he will end up inside for sure.

In Response

by: Ian from: USA
May 04, 2014 3:50 PM
to Taichi,
In my opinion, at this moment, it is better for Aquino to sit on the back of the American tiger than inside the greedy Chinese shark stomach.
and to Neal Weaver.
I don't think any western mind could come up with such a weird theory about Russia takes Canada and India takes Australia

In Response

by: Neal Weaver from: Canada
May 03, 2014 1:59 PM
America should reserve their military powers to protect their British colonies (Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and fight no China. If America gets into a nuclear war with China, I am sure America will lose their military power to protect their brother countries (Canada, Australia and New Zealand). India and Japan will take over Australia and Russia will take over Canada. America should protect their brothers, not Philippines.

The geographic nature in that region does not and will not allow any country to claim a front yard and a backyard, believe me.


by: Neal Weaver from: Canada
May 02, 2014 3:40 PM
Philippines can only claim the interest in Philippines Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia and China can claim the interest in South China Sea. The geographic nature in this region does not and will not allow any country to claim a front yard and a backyard. If the natural resources are in Philippines Sea, Vietnam, Malaysia and China can not claim any interest in Philippines Sea.

In Response

by: Ian from: USA
May 05, 2014 12:21 AM
to Jack,

China has use no logic nor does it obey international law . After the US and its allies withdrawn from the war in Vietnam , China pretended to aid the North Vietnamese and invaded, stolen the Paracel islands group from South Vietnam in 1974 . had China really been North Vietnam's comrade, it would return the islands to North Vietnam . Then China became more greedy and yanked some of the islands of the Spratly group from North Vietnam in 1988 . Recently China invaded the Scarlborough and other reefs near the Philippines . Then in January 2014 it sending war ships encroaching James shoal which claimed by Malaysia . So who is the one who are encroaching practically all other Southeast Asian countries' beach front . Who is the new greedy imperialist of this century ?

In Response

by: Ian from: USA
May 04, 2014 4:03 PM
I believe you are wrong, it is nonsense about a country such as Philippines is entitled of only one sea when it has ocean exposure all around it .
Canada, US have a front yard & two side yards each. Mexico has two side yards , Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama each has two side yards.
For Japan and Philippines, they should entitled to a front yard, 2 side yards and a rear yard..and no matter how you want to side with China , it should have one side yard and should not encroaching on the south-east Asian countries' beach fronts

In Response

by: SEATO
May 04, 2014 3:53 AM
As far as China was concerned,its southernmost border line stretched as far as Hainan Island.There were no marine dispute in the South China Sea in the first place. China just made a claim and used force to assert sovereignty over the entire South China Sea,which is totally unacceptble.How can you resolve a dispute when China keeps forcing unfair terms and conditions on you simply because China is a much stronger and more influential than their neighbours

In Response

by: jack from: us
May 03, 2014 3:41 PM
Mr Weaver, the west Philippines sea is south China sea renamed
to suit the Philippines.There are many overlapped EEZ between these countries, big or small.Many contested areas were only
recently claimed by the Philippines ,emboldened by the 1982 UNCLOS.You cannot claim parts of what others have claimed
before you just because they have now fallen under your EEZ.
If the same logic is applied, then Malaysia and Brunei and China can now claim parts of PH because they now fall under
their EEZ.Resolve territorial disputes first, then talk about EEZ.,
Inot the other way around.Overlapped EEZ must also be discussed.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid