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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid