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  Some of the equipment is expected to come from U.S. military hardware being withdrawn from Afghanistan as well as some equipment from Iraq.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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs