Philippine government gives OK for US to use old bases, newspaper reports
Published: June 7, 2012
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Philippine government said this week
that the United States military is again welcome to use Subic Bay and
the sprawling Clark Air Base, two decades after the installations were
abandoned due to political friction with Manila, according to media
Philippine Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta
said U.S. troops, ships and aircraft can make use of the old bases, as
long as prior approval is granted by the government. Azcueta made the
comments following a meeting with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin
Dempsey, who traveled to the country as part of a regional trip to
generate support for a military pivot toward Asia, according to the
Philippine Star newspaper.
The United States had key bases in the Philippines for decades after
World War II, but relations broke down in the early 1990s, and the
facilities were returned.
The announcement of an expanded military relationship this week comes
after months of talks between Washington and Manila, and appears to be
another step forward in the U.S. plan to bolster forces in the
“They can come here provided they have prior coordination from the
government,” Azcueta said following the meeting at the Philippine
military headquarters of Camp Aguinaldo in Manila, according to the
Philippine Star newspaper. “That’s what we want … increase in exercises
The United States has a 60-year-old mutual defense
treaty with the Philippines and participates in annual exercises with
its military. There are also roughly 500 U.S. Special Forces troops that
have been advising the Philippine military in its fight against Islamic
terrorist groups in the southern portion of the county since 2001.
However, it was unclear Thursday how useful the Clark and Subic bases
might now be to the United States because much of the land has been
privately developed over the past 20 years.
The former Navy base at Subic Bay still has an airfield that can
accommodate military aircraft and also can provide a safe haven for
ships during cyclones, according to the Philippine Star.
The United States began talks with the Philippines late last year in hopes of expanding military ties.
During that time, the U.S. has struck a deal with
Australia to rotate thousands of Marines through bases at Darwin,
outlined a plan to forward deploy warships in Singapore, and unveiled a
new agreement with Japan to realign the controversial Marine Corps
presence on Okinawa.
Dempsey met with Philippine leaders this week as top U.S. officials,
including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, traveled through the region in
hopes of building more support among allies for a vastly increased
military presence, which will stretch in an arc across the Pacific and
Asia from Hawaii to Singapore. Panetta has said the United States plans
to shift military forces from a 50/50 split between the Pacific and
Atlantic to a 60/40 split that will focus more on the Pacific.
In an interview this week with the Department of Defense press service,
Dempsey downplayed the size of the increase in military forces, saying
some countries were concerned it could spark confrontation with China.
The Philippines has been embroiled in a heated dispute with China over
ownership of the Spratly Islands, a conflict that could draw in the
United States due to its mutual defense treaty.
“That’s not the intent” of the Asia pivot, to
challenge China or cause confrontation, Dempsey told the press service.
“The intent is to increase the quality of our engagement [with allies],
the quality of our relationship-building, the quality of our thinking,
the quality of our leaders.”
In: World News
Tags: navy, subic bay, clark afb, phillipines
Location: Vatican City State (Holy See) (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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