News / Asia

US Typhoon Response Improves Military Ties with Manila

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario (L) walks with U.S. Representative Chris Smith upon arrival at the Department of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Pasay city, metro Manila, Nov. 25, 2013.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario (L) walks with U.S. Representative Chris Smith upon arrival at the Department of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Pasay city, metro Manila, Nov. 25, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Simone Orendain
— Philippines officials say the challenges of mounting the relief effort for Typhoon Haiyan show the urgency of signing a long-term agreement on an increased U.S. troop presence in the country. Typhoon Haiyan struck as the United States and the Philippines were negotiating a plan for more regular U.S. troop rotations to the country.

The negotiators have been meeting for months, but Philippine representatives have said they still need time to study some issues.

On Monday, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario made a pitch for finalizing the agreement at a briefing with a U.S. Congressional delegation in Manila.

“I think this [disaster] demonstrates the need for this framework agreement that we’re working out with the United States… because it accentuates one of the main purposes of the framework, which is to make humanitarian and disaster relief and response a major aspect of the agreement,” said del Rosario.

Haiyan crippled the central provinces’ infrastructure when its powerful winds knocked out electricity and downed communications towers. It wiped out most of the houses in villages and municipalities and left a tangled mess of trees and debris clogging roads for days.

The devastation hampered the aid effort and handicapped the Philippines military's ability to respond. The U.S. sent some 50 ships and aircraft to the region for a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operation. U.S. forces also helped work out logistics for the Philippines' own response.

Relief operations in the Philippines

  • Typhoon survivors board a Philippine Air Force transport plane in Tacloban, Nov. 21, 2013.
  • A Philippine man carries aid from a U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopter in Palo, Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013.
  • U.S. sailors and Marines load supplies onto a helicopter to be delivered in Eastern Sumar Province, Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • U.S. military personnel carry supplies to be distributed in Eastern Sumar Province, Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • U.S. sailors work with Philippine armed forces members to transport relief supplies in Ormoc City, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • A member of the U.S. Navy hugs a child during a visit to Philippine Army base Camp Downes in support of Operation Damayan, Nov. 18, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • A Seahawk helicopter transports international relief supplies in support of Operation Damayan, Ormoc City, Philippines, Nov. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • U.S. sailors and Marines work with Philippine civilians to unload relief supplies in Guiuan, Philippines, Nov. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • Villagers scramble for aid from a U.S. Navy helicopter in the coastal town of Tanawan, Philippines, Nov. 17. 2013.
  • A soldier carries a baby to board a U.S. military transport plane at the damaged Tacloban airport, Tacloban city, Philippines, Nov. 17, 2013.
  • A U.S. hospital corpsman assists Philippine nurses in treating a patient's head wound at the Immaculate Conception School refugee camp, Guiuan, Philippines, Nov. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • Philippine citizens board an U.S. HC-130 Hercules to be airlifted to safety in support of Operation Damayan, Guiuan, Nov. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy)

Closer partnership

Arizona Congressman Trent Franks told reporters in Manila the U.S. is committed to solidifying the mutual defense partnership.

“I think it’s vitally important for us to stick together and take every opportunity we have, including this one, to try to bring our military efforts close together,” he said.

Carl Baker, program director at the Pacific Forum of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the Haiyan relief operation will influence negotiations between the two countries, but it should not be a determining factor for the agreement.

“I think it would be a mistake for the United States to go into those [negotiations] thinking that now it has additional leverage to convince the Philippines to accept terms that it wasn’t prepared to accept,” he said.

Philippine Aid Donors Factbox

Many countries and organizations are providing humanitarian aid to the Philippines in the wake of Friday's typhoon. The most prominent donors include:

  • UNITED NATIONS: $25 million released from U.N. emergency relief fund, appealing for more
  • UNITED STATES: $20 million in aid, plus military assistance
  • EU: $17 million
  • BRITAIN: $16 million, plus military assistance
  • JAPAN: $10 million, and an emergency medical relief team
  • UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: $10 million
  • AUSTRALIA: $9.3 million, including medical personnel
  • SOUTH KOREA: $5 million, plus a disaster relief team
  • CANADA: up to $5 million
  • U.N. WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: $2 million
  • NEW ZEALAND: $1.7 million
  • U.N. CHILDREN'S FUND (UNICEF): $1.3 million worth of supplies
  • HSBC (global banking group): $1 million
  • SAMSUNG (South Korean technology company): $1 million
  • TAIWAN: $200,000
  • VATICAN: $150,000 in initial assistance
  • CHINA: $100,000
  • CHINA RED CROSS: $100,000
The Philippines, which has one of the smallest military budgets in the region, wants the increased U.S. troop presence to complement its military expansion plans. It is particularly concerned with a contentious territorial dispute with China over islets in the resource-rich South China Sea. At the same time, the U.S. is shifting its security and economic focus to Asia, where China’s influence continues to grow.

Philippines Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista says the U.S. disaster response has helped strengthen the Philippine military.

“Among the other crisis we’ve faced in the past and also this one, they have always been with us, demonstrated their willingness and their capability to assist us in any problem that we face,” he said.

The China factor

Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Fellow Ian Storey says the U.S. typhoon response has helped the two countries get closer to their objectives.

“The United States doesn’t want to say ‘We want to increase our military presence in the Philippines because of China.’ They will use other reasons as well, like a HADR as one of the widely important factors that they will use to strengthen their case,” he said.

Last week, China offered its 14,000 ton floating military hospital, called the Peace Ark toward Haiyan relief efforts. Storey says this is a significant move because it would be the Peace Ark’s first humanitarian response operation.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ed from: nj
December 05, 2013 9:22 AM
And Clark AFB?


by: ed mays from: brick nj
November 25, 2013 8:12 PM
Gee, wasn`t it just awhile ago the Philippines kicked us out of Clark air Force Base...sure was. Now it`s a different story from them. And a short memory of our dead and wounded fighting for them in WWII against the ravaging and raping Japanese.

In Response

by: bb from: los angeles
December 05, 2013 2:15 AM
Woah fella, hold it there, you need to read history, the Philippines & the US fought side by side during the war. the Philippines was a colony/commonwealth when the war broke out, it wasn't just the US that got killed or wounded, when the US troops came back home after the war the filipino troops even the civilians were still fighting the enemies they died for them(US) too. In case you don't know, Pearl Harbor was bombed because Japanese knew US were based there, after they bombed Pearl Harbor they bombed the US bases in the Philippines because the Japanese knew they were also there. The filipino soldiers were part of the United States Armed forces with Gen. MacArthur as their leader & who established it before the war so it's a two-way street. In case you don't know this, the two countries have a Mutual Defense Treaty.

In Response

by: Keen from: Philippines
November 26, 2013 9:31 AM
Ed Mays of NJ, with due respect, Philippines and the whole Filipino community won't forget our HISTORY; we just forget the HATRED...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid