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.
    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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.