Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pentagon: United States Military Wants Increased Access to Philippines

According to a report from the Washington Post, "the Philippines is in talks with the Obama administration about expanding the American military presence" in the Philippines, a strategic moves aimed at China and its growing military activities in the region. (Read full story here)

Are the talks about US military bases back in Philippine soil? Filipino leftist groups think so and were quick to stage a rally in Washington DC to express their disapproval. A leader from the leftist group, Bayan said, "If we allow more US troops to enter our country, the entire archipelago will be transformed into one military outpost for US hegemonic interests."

The Department of Foreign Affairs however, clarified that the talks are about “access, not bases." A spokesperson said, “our talks focus on strengthening cooperation on military and non-military activities, such as disaster response and humanitarian assistance, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation. There were no discussions about new US bases."

The 1987 Philippine constitution prohibits permanent foreign military bases in the country. But the US maintains close military ties with the Philippines under a 1951 defense treaty and the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement.

I know some people will disagree, but I think a military partnership between the Philippines and the United States to secure the Pacific region is a smart move. However, mutually agreed standards and code of conduct should be in place and strictly enforced to ensure the shared access and joint military activities will not cause any social or moral problems in the Philippines. As a dad raising Filipino-American children, I'll be interested to use this as a teaching opportunity to show my children the country of their birth and the country of their heritage are good allies, protects it people, and more importantly are loving neighbors to each other.

I'm optimistic and is curious how this news will turn out. Let's wait and see.