News / Asia

    Philippine Public Divided on Increased US Military Visits

    FILE - Protesters hold placards as they demonstrate against the ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and the Philippines in front of the military headquarters in Quezon city, metro Manila, Aug. 15, 2013.
    FILE - Protesters hold placards as they demonstrate against the ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and the Philippines in front of the military headquarters in Quezon city, metro Manila, Aug. 15, 2013.
    Simone Orendain
    Many in the Philippines, including the country’s president, have said they expect a deal to be reached soon between their government and the United States that would see more American troops visiting the Philippines. With a strong push for the proposal from many sides, ordinary Filipinos are split on whether more U.S. troops in the country is a positive.
     
    Michael Ferros said that he is in favor of having more U.S. troops in the Philippines.  The sales executive in Manila’s business district said “it’s because of China.”
     
    “If there’s the U.S. troop[s] here, I think they will not penetrate Philippines.  Like before when U.S. [was] in Subic they could not bully other Asian countries,” said Ferros.
     
    Ferros pointed out that the U.S. has “the most capable Navy” in the world and they should have their old base back.  Subic is situated off the South China Sea.
     
    Two other respondents agreed with Ferros out of a dozen who consented to talk to VOA.  Two thirds of the respondents in the informal survey said the U.S. should visit more often.
     
    The U.S. had several bases in the Philippines for nearly a century, until nationalistic sentiment sent them packing in 1992.  But since 2001, U.S. troops have returned on a rotational basis under a visiting forces agreement.  The U.S. military says that on any given rotation, there are more than 400 troops in the country’s south. 
     
    Philippine negotiators have made clear any new agreement to have more U.S. troops visit would adhere to the Philippine Constitution, which does not allow outside military installations. Late last year the Philippine Defense secretary said they also wanted full access to planned temporary facilities of the U.S.
     
    Ramon Casiple with the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform in Manila said while there is widespread support for the proposal, the question of access has been a sticking point in negotiations.
     
    “The Philippines is wary about granting such exclusive control.  The problems with American bases before, remember, was the treatment of civilians and crime-related incidents… which the U.S. is not particularly keen on being passed through the Philippines side,” said Casiple.
     
    Facing a territorial dispute with China, the Philippines with a severely lacking military wants to have a “minimum credible defense posture.”  To do this, Manila says, it needs to stand alongside the U.S., which is a mutual defense treaty ally. 
     
    The U.S. is looking to expand its reach in the Asia-Pacific region where China’s influence has grown significantly. It wants more frequent military visits to the Philippines where it can dock ships, land planes and have equipment ready for use.
     
    The Philippines and China are squabbling over tiny islands in the South China Sea, which the Philippines claims are part of its 370 kilometer exclusive economic zone.  In recent years, the country has been kept on the periphery of at least three outcroppings as China stepped up patrols in the waters it claims. China's claim is based primarily on ancient maps.
     
    Manila has filed a case against Beijing with a United Nations arbitration tribunal, calling China’s claim excessive.  Beijing does not recognize the filing. 
     
    Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have stakes in the resource rich sea.  
     
    However, even if there is a perception that China poses a threat, not everyone wants the U.S. military to come around more. 
     
    Roderick Caceres, a tour guide at a Manila Bay park, said the Americans are simply using the Philippines.
     
    Caceres said U.S. troops come often for military exercises, yet China was able to take some islands. "So China is not afraid of them,” he said.
     
    Romnick Iglesias, an unemployed teacher, said the Philippine military could benefit from more training with U.S. troops, but disagreed that the Philippines needs outside help to deal with China.
     
     “It’s advisable to have negotiations only, because it’s just between the Philippines and China,” said Iglesias.
     
    Another respondent also said bilateral dialogue was the most peaceful option.
     
    Congressman Walden Bello supports the arbitration case, and said it shows China does “not have a leg to stand on.”  But he has consistently opposed having more American troops in the country.
     
    “The dynamics of your polity and your society and your economy becomes subject to the strategy of the superpower.  And that’s basically what’s going to happen,” said Bello.
     
    Bello said that even if the agreement does not need Congressional approval, some lawmakers plan to scrutinize it and raise concerns.
     
    Manila negotiators said the next meeting with their Washington counterparts is scheduled for next month.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora