News / Asia

Philippines to Discuss More Frequent Military Visits with US

A Philippine Navy special operations group on board speed boats patrols off Subic Bay, facing the South China Sea, August 6, 2013.
A Philippine Navy special operations group on board speed boats patrols off Subic Bay, facing the South China Sea, August 6, 2013.
Simone Orendain
Philippine officials say they will begin formal talks with the United States Wednesday on having more frequent U.S. military visits as part of a plan to deter China from infringing on what Manila claims is its territory in the South China Sea. 
Officials say having the U.S. presence would mean more joint military exercises and equipment ready for use at Philippine bases. They say this would help support the country’s “minimum credible defense” posture.
Philippine officials say they want to see the increased rotations begin before 2016, when President Benigno Aquino leaves office.   
While the Philippine military is undergoing a modernization program, its spending still lags some of the smallest defense budgets in the region.  
Click to EnlargeClick to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge
The Philippines was host to U.S. bases for nearly 100 years until domestic pressure forced them to close in 1991.  
Carl Baker, program director at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said this time around public opposition is “dramatically reduced.” 
“And the people who are supportive of it are significantly increased and probably more politically motivated, given what China has been doing,” Baker said.
Baker pointed to encounters such as China’s presence at Scarborough Shoal, the site of a tense standoff last year between Philippine and Chinese ships over alleged poaching by Chinese fishermen in waters claimed by the Philippines.  The Philippines backed off and Chinese vessels remained at the shoal where Philippine fishermen said they were rebuffed.
The Philippines lost nearby Mischief Reef to China in the mid-1990s. In May, officials said a Chinese frigate and some of its surveillance ships were near Second Thomas Shoal, also in Philippine-claimed waters.
China claimed it has “indisputable sovereignty” over much of the resource-rich South China Sea.  The Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have whole or partial claims to it.  
The Philippines $1.8 billion military spending plan is going toward new hardware including 12 fighter jets, two frigates and an air-surveillance radar.  This week it took official delivery of a second Hamilton-class cutter from the U.S. collection of used assets.  Officials say working the increased U.S. visits into this program will give its strategy a needed boost.
Although there now appears to be public support for the increased U.S. military visits, Baker said that could easily change because it will be difficult for the U.S. to meet the Philippines’ expectations.
“What they’re going to have a difficult time demonstrating is their willingness to actually deliver defense of those areas because it gets back to the old argument from the United States," he explained. " What exactly is the United States committed to defend?  And that’s the detail where the strategic message gets a little bit hazy.”
The two countries signed a mutual defense treaty in 1951, which calls on each nation to defend the other in certain kinds of attacks. However, the United States maintains its neutrality on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, saying it is an issue for the countries in the region to resolve.   

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs