It was recently announced that President Obama visited the Philippines as part of an Asian tour and while there he talked about a defense pact with the country. Reports confirm that the U.S. and the Philippines have indeed come to an agreement for a new 10-year defense pact that is to allow increased presence of U.S. troops on Philippines soil. The deal was closed before President Obama’s arrival at the Philippines Capital, Manila, on Monday, which was the last of his stops on his four-country Asian tour.
This agreement, called the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which was under negotiation for the better part of eight months is said to be “the most significant defense agreement that we have concluded with the Philippines in decades,” as Evan Medeiros, the National Security Council senior director for Asian affairs stated. The mentioned accord will allow U.S. forces temporary access to various select Philippines bases and allow them to position military planes and ships there as well.
Details regarding the size, duration, or location of the increased U.S. presence is still something to be worked out in the near future. The new defense pact that Obama talked about when he visited the Philippines is already considered to be a huge step in the Obama administration’s planning towards various matters that revolve around Asia. The Philippines have been looking for additional support in their disputes with China over many areas, such as the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, for a long time now. The U.S. see this pact as an opportunity to strengthen its presence in the regions there and be able to more closely monitor what is going on. Obama has of course, been completely aware of the situation and made sure not to antagonize China during his Asia trip, which included visiting Japan, South Korea and Malaysia as well.
Sources say the Philippines have reacted positively to the new defense agreement and public sentiment in the country is with the U.S. A poll found that at least 85 percent of Filipinos had a good view of the U.S., which is a rather high percentage considering the circumstances.
The Philippines already have a history with the U.S., which includes a long time running, deep, connection between the countries. It basically started from an American colony back in 1898 to 1946 along with the countries’ military defense treaty which was signed in 1951. It is considered to be the oldest U.S. treaty alliance in Asia.
President Obama visited the Philippines where he discussed a defense pack with the country. However, U.S. military presence has been an emotionally charged and biased topic for quite a while, raising questions about various matters such as sovereignty and national pride. There have been debates already in the Philippine Senate, which actually led to the closing of Subic Bay Naval Station, the last permanent U.S. base in the country back in 1992. A rather small but vocal protest group had opposed the U.S. troops in the country thus leading to the president’s visit and followed up with clashes with the police in front of the U.S. embassy during the president’s visit.
By Donna W. Martin