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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid