News / Asia

Philippines 'Studying Options' on Proposed US Base-Sharing

Protesters display placards and banners as they march towards the gates of the U.S. Embassy during a protest in Manila, July 4, 2013.
Protesters display placards and banners as they march towards the gates of the U.S. Embassy during a protest in Manila, July 4, 2013.
Simone Orendain
As the Philippines looks to boost its military at a time of increasing tensions with China over territorial disputes, authorities are laying the groundwork for a military base-sharing arrangement with the United States. 

Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Cuisia said officials are combing through already existing security agreements between Manila and Washington to have a better idea of how a base sharing partnership would work. 

In particular, Cuisia said they are studying the Visiting Forces Agreement, which, since 2002, has allowed a contingent of about 500 American troops to rotate in and out of the restive area in Mindanao where the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf Group operates.

“Let me stress, whatever we agree to must benefit the Philippines because if it will not benefit us, then we will not agree to it.  It has to be mutually beneficial,” he said.

Cuisia said any shared use of bases would have to be within the framework of the Philippine Constitution. The U.S. had bases in the Philippines for almost 100 years until domestic opposition forced the last of them to close in 1992.

The plan would see more U.S. troops coming and going and American military hardware ready for use at such bases.  Some of the equipment is expected to come from U.S. military hardware being withdrawn from Afghanistan as well as some equipment from Iraq.

Cuisia said the proposal would support the country’s efforts to form a “minimal credible defense” posture and help to strengthen maritime security and maritime domain awareness. 

The Philippines is locked in a diplomatic dispute with China over sovereign claims in the resource-rich South China Sea.  Most recently, competing claims over Scarborough Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal have raised new tensions.  China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim practically the entire sea, while the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have partial claims.

But Cuisia emphasizes that having U.S. forces around is not meant to address threats from any specific country.

Carl Baker, program director of the Pacific Forum of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said a base-sharing plan would likely be similar to the Joint Special Operations Task Force program in Mindanao.

“I think that’s sort of the model that they’re following.  So they can put people on these bases on a more permanent basis without calling it ‘permanent basing,’” he said.

Baker said by hosting American forces the Philippines wants to demonstrate to the world that the United States is prepared to live up to its commitment in the two countries’ Mutual Defense Treaty.  Still, the U.S. maintains a neutral position regarding territorial disputes in the South China Sea and elsewhere.  Baker added that U.S. officials want ready access to bases for air and sea forces in Southeast Asia.

Cuisia said the proposal is still in “informal talks” and various departments involved are waiting for President Benigno Aquino’s signal to enter into formal talks.  Aquino has indicated he is open to the plan and Cuisia confirmed the Philippines wants something in place before 2016 when the president’s term ends.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs