News / Asia

US Role in Typhoon Relief Boosts New Military Deal with Manila

Four Ospreys from the U.S. Navy Ship (USNS) Charles Drew prepare to taxi on the tarmac of Tacloban airport in the aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan, Nov. 14, 2013.
Four Ospreys from the U.S. Navy Ship (USNS) Charles Drew prepare to taxi on the tarmac of Tacloban airport in the aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan, Nov. 14, 2013.
Emergency relief provided by U.S. troops in areas devastated by typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines makes a strong case for the two allies to clinch a new military accord, Manila's foreign minister said on Monday.

The Philippines and the United States have been negotiating a new security agreement allowing wider and more prolonged access for the U.S. military at bases and other facilities in its former colony. It also provides for storage of equipment and supplies for humanitarian and maritime operations.

Last month, after four meetings, the talks stalled over legal and constitutional issues. Both sides, however, are committed to concluding a deal, a boost to the foreign policy of President Barack Obama's administration focusing on Asia and the Pacific.

“What has been demonstrated in the central Philippines as a result of this typhoon and the assistance provided in terms of relief, rescue operation... is the need for this framework agreement that we are working on with the United States,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters.

“It accentuates one of the main purposes of the framework agreement, which is to make humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and response a very major aspect of the agreement.”

The United States ran two military bases in the Philippines until the early 1990s, but abandoned them when the government refused to extend the necessary agreements.

The current talks are taking place as the Philippines is engaged in a long-running territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea. Tensions have periodically sharpened, with vessels from each side keeping close watch on the other.

  • 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)

Fifty ships and aircraft

The world's biggest-ever storm to make landfall struck the central Philippines on Nov. 8, killing more than 5,200 people, displacing 4.4 million and destroying 24 billion pesos ($547 million) in crops and infrastructure.

Within days, the U.S. military sent some 50 ships and aircraft to help distribute food, water and other supplies and speed up delivery by reopening roads, ports and airports.

Washington has contributed nearly $52 million in relief and shelter materials, including about $30 million in direct aid from the U.S. Department of Defense, which sent the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and escort ships.

New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith, speaking to journalists after meeting del Rosario, said the storm “has brought all of us even closer together”.

“We realized that this is a jewel of a friendship. We must preserve it at all cost. So I think... all other ongoing negotiations will all be given a positive boost as a direct result of this.”

Smith said the United States was committed to long-term reconstruction, particularly housing. “There's a colossal need,” he said. “We saw it first hand and that would be something that we take back because we want to be part of the solution.”

The U.N. humanitarian office said life saving assistance is still urgently needed, particularly food, water and shelter due to limited access and lack of long-term supplies. The U.N. says it needs to raise $348 million to address those needs.

China's post-typhoon relief efforts were initially criticized, even by Chinese media, as inadequate, but Beijing last week sent a state of the art hospital ship to assist.

The head of China's relief mission said there could be no notion of diplomatic disputes in times of humanitarian crises.

“We know that our neighbor is suffering from the... disaster. It is our duty to provide assistance in the fastest possible time,” Rear Admiral Shen Hao said on Monday aboard the 14,000-ton Peace Ark.

“In the eyes of the doctors and nurses there is no conflict, there is no problem. The only thing in their eyes is medical assistance.”

You May Like

Video Obama: Action on Climate Change 'Economic, Security Imperative'

President spoke to reporters on sidelines of UN Climate Summit outside Paris, where leaders are working to agree on binding measures

IMF Bets on China’s Resolve to Reform

IMF announcement already raising questions about just how much Beijing is committed to such reforms

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

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 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.

VOA Blogs