Return of US bases in Manila feared as Washington transfers more warships in Pacific

Return of US bases in Manila feared as Washington transfers more warships in Pacific

Manila : Philippines | Jun 03, 2012 at 4:29 PM PDT
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Philippine president Benigno Aquino

By John Lloyd Hoffman, Gang Glong Li and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- There is a strong possibility that President Benigno Simeon Aquino III will revive the proposed RP-US military bases agreement which was rejected by the Philippine Senate on September 16, 1991 to accommodate more warships and US troops to be deployed by Washington D.C in Asia Pacific in year 2020.

"This is not a remote possibility. The US can ask Aquino anytime about the revival of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement and have a treaty passed before his term ends in 2016. And Washington can bring this proposal during the scheduled state visit of Aquino to US and formalize it during his meeting with President Barack Obama," Pamalakaya chairperson Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

US Defense Secretart Leon Panetta announced on Saturday that the United States will move the majority of its warships to the Asia-Pacific in coming years and keep six aircraft carriers in the region. He said the US would reposition its Navy fleet so that 60 percent of its warships would be assigned to the region by 2020, compared to about 50 percent now. The Navy would maintain six aircraft carriers assigned to the Pacific.

Six of its 11 carriers are now assigned to the Pacific but that number will fall to five when the USS Enterprise retires this year. But Panetta dispelled notions that the shift in US focus to Asia was designed to contain China’s emergence as a global power. He acknowledged differences between the world’s two largest economies on a range of issues, including the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

“It appears to us that Washington wants the puppet regime of Mr.Aquino to give way to the revival and quick approval of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement, the same bases agreement rejected by the Philippine Senate in 1991 but this time with some news twists and shocking turns. The US needs their former naval and air bases for their military campaigns in the Asia Pacific region before and beyond 2020. Don't be shocked if the revival of the bases agreement becomes an issue during the Aquino state visit in US next week," Pamalakaya's Hicap warned.

The Pamalakaya official said the revival of RP-US Military Bases Agreement has become a necessity to accommodate tens of thousands of US troops in the region. Hicap said at present the US Asia Pacific Command maintains 49,000 US troops in Japan and 27,000 US troops in South Korea, excluding US troops currently deployed in Guam, Hawaii and Australia.

Pamalakaya said the US military naval base in Subic is back to its former status as Washington’s biggest naval base outside mainland America. The militant group was referring to the unannounced visit of attack submarine USS North Carolina (US-SNN 777), one of the most modern submarines in the US navy last month.

Pamalakaya asserted that the highly questionable port call of US attack submarine merely confirmed that the former Subic Naval base is being used as a de facto naval base for arriving American military warships and US troops on rotation basis.

Pamalakaya said the arrival of USS North Carolina at the former American naval base in the Philippines is a political-military message to the Aquino administration that it is looking forward to the revival of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement.

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A handout photo shows a Philippines Navy warship docked at the naval headquarters in Manila
A handout photo shows a Philippines Navy warship docked at the naval headquarters in Manila
GerryAlbert is based in Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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