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
x
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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs