Officials in the Philippines are set to enter negotiations with the United States to further increase American military presence around the islands and address the looming Chinese threat in the South China Sea. This isn’t the first time that the Philippines has asked for American support due to China’s aggression in the disputed aquatic territory, but it does continue the discussion as to whether or not the Philippines can truly be independent of its former colonizer.
After the Spanish-American War in 1898, the United States gained authority over the Philippines from Spain, beginning another period of change that would influence the way the country would run both its educational and governmental systems. Since the Philippines provided a strategic headquarters for military advancement in the Pacific, many American soldiers were housed at the Subic Bay naval base and the Clark air base. The Philippines received its independence almost fifty years later in 1946, but it wasn’t until 1991 that the country voted to close some of its prominent American bases, such as those at Subic and Clark.
As China began to grow into a larger world player, the Philippines found itself in a predicament. Both China and the Philippines were locked in a dispute over the waters of the South China Sea, which provides valuable fishing and gas resources. The Philippines would need to increase naval troops to prevent a Chinese takeover. Unfortunately, the Philippines do not have a very powerful military, with organizations such as the Jamestown Foundation calling it “one of the weakest military forces in Southeast Asia” due to its large priority towards funding the army over the country’s navy and coast guard. Instead, the country would need to look for a powerful ally for assistance.
Support from the American military would help fend off any major attacks that the Philippine Navy would be unable to prevent. To further justify the larger American presence, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario acknowledged the resources that the Philippines would gain to respond to natural disasters, such as the recent Typhoon Utor that has already displaced thousands of people in the Philippines.
The framework for what the actual implementation policy will look like has not been confirmed yet and the scale and scope of this increased military presence is still uncertain.
What do you think about this situation and what other alternatives do you see in addressing it? Leave a comment with your ideas below!
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