US presence ‘needed against China’

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The presence of American forces in the country will help deter foreign aggressors while the Philippines builds up its military, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Friday.

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In explaining the need to allow American access to its two former military bases in Subic and Clark, Gazmin pointed to the country’s  teritorial dispute with China, which he said is using its military might in claiming a number of islets and shoals in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) that clearly belong to the Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Rules of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“At this point in time we cannot stand alone. We need allies while we build up our military,” Gazmin said in Filipino. “If we do not do this, we will continue to be bullied.”

He said China continues to intrude in Philippine territory. “So what do we do, wait until they’ve reached out doorstep? They’re already in our garage,” he said.

Reports that the Philippines plans to grant access to US forces has elicited a sharp response from China.

Gazmin said that it is China’s prerogative but that would not prevent the Philippines from collaborating with the US and other strategic allies like Japan, which also has a similar territorial dispute with the Beijing.

Asked if the US has acknowledged the Philippine intent, Gazmin cited the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty, which he said clearly stipulates the two countries’ obligations to each other when attacked by a foreign aggressor.

Defense lawyers are studying the agreement that would formalize the granting of US access to its former bases, taking into account the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Gazmin said.

The study will determine if the agreement would still be subject to congressional approval.
Gazmin also said the access agreement was considered in connection with the increased presence of US forces in the Asia Pacific Region.

Under the agreement, the US can bring in modern and sophisticated equipment, Gazmin said.

But a Malacañang official said on Friday the access arrangement have not been approved by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said that the access agreement was still on the “proposal levels.”

Valte noted that the Defense department is still looking into several proposals.

“Secretary Gazmin said that they are still threshing that out, they are still working on it,” Valte said.

She assured that the agreement will not go against the Constitution and the VFA.

“Everybody has agreed on an increased rotational presence here, not just in the country, but the US also has announced that there will be a rebalancing of sorts in the region,” Valte said.

She downplayed speculation the Philippines was planning to build new air and naval bases for the Americans in the face of China’s growing aggression.

“At this point, what we do within our territory is perfectly within our rights and as such we see no reason why it should raise any particular tensions,” Valte said.

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3 Comments

  1. It is no use seeking help from the US and Japan.The South China Sea belongs to China.PH is a servant nation,a rubbish naion,which should ruled by outsiders.

  2. Reynaldo De Guzman on

    I agree 100% with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin That the presence of American forces in the country will help deter foreign aggressors while the Philippines builds up its military. We should also trust Japan,and other ASEAN, The time is now that we need to look out for each other because of Beijing’s use of military power to assert sovereignty on the whole China Sea.

  3. rick bernabe on

    we need to commit with japan because they have proven to be more trustworthy partner than even the US.
    We should support Japan,even if we have to have our sons and daughter fight their war with china……japan is a very reliable partner.
    we need to supply the japanese military with our young kids like when we use to supply the US with sailors in Subic Bay and Sangley point.
    the japanese had a very long courtship with the filipino people, if we respond in kind, both our economies will grow and our people will benefit from jobs and technology transfer.
    having lived in japan for more than (on and off)three years and observe these very reserve people,deep down in their heart they were sorry for what happened in WWII. and these japanese when you earned their trust are probably the best partner we could ever have.
    i hope this progress of even allowing these japanese navy open access to our port is very healthy,and should continue on.
    the japanese should be open to the filipinos getting naturalized citizen of Japan and the Japanese can do the same to be a naturalized citizen of the Philippines……there are so many mixed filipino-japanese kids even here in california. the philippines have a large population and the japanese have the technology.
    one common trait of the japanese and the filipinos are their hard work, and also the smarts and the brains that comes along with it. both side knows it.

    Even the Americans love these japanese and trust them very much…..we should too