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.
Reuters
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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs