"And this is how we shoot Communists."
The United States and the Philippines have reached a 10-year agreement that would allow a larger U.S. military presence in the Southeast Asian country as it grapples with increasingly tense territorial disputes with China, White House officials said Sunday.
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement allows for U.S. troops to be deployed “on temporary and rotational basis,” according to a primer issued by the Philippine government, but not a return of U.S. military bases. It also allows U.S. forces to train and conduct exercises with Philippine forces for maritime security, disaster assistance and humanitarian aid, White House officials told reporters at a briefing.
The agreement will be signed Monday at the main military camp in the Philippine capital, Manila, before President Barack Obama arrives on the last leg of a four-country Asian tour, following earlier stops in Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.
Officials accompanying Obama on a visit to Malaysia cited disaster response after last year's Typhoon Yolanda as the kind of cooperation the pact would facilitate reports Aljazeera.
US-Philippines Military Exercises
U.S. Military fights terrorists in the Philippines
While U.S. officials say the new security pact is not meant to counter Chinese assertiveness in the region, it would give American forces temporary access to selected military camps and allow them to preposition fighter jets and ships.
"We're not doing this because of China," Evan Medeiros, Obama's top Asia advisor, said when asked if the pact is meant as a deterrent to China.
TRANSLATION - We are doing this because of China.
The agreement would promote better coordination between U.S. and Filipino forces, boost the 120,000-strong Philippine military's capability to monitor and secure the country's territory and respond more rapidly to natural disasters and other emergencies.
|It's all about oil.|
China claims much of the open ocean
all the way down to Malaysia.
"Pre-positioned materiel will allow for timely responses in the event of disasters — natural or otherwise," stated the government primer.
While the U.S. military would not be required to pay rent for local camp areas, the Philippines would own buildings and infrastructure to be built or improved by the Americans and reap economic gains from the U.S. presence, it said, adding the pact was an executive agreement that would not need to be ratified by the Philippine Senate.
The presence of foreign troops is a sensitive issue in the Philippines, a former American colony.
Left-wing activists have protested against Obama's visit and the new defense pact in small but lively demonstrations, saying that the agreement reverses democratic gains achieved when huge U.S. military bases were shut down in the early 1990s, ending nearly a century of American military presence in the Philippines.
The Philippine Senate voted in 1991 to close down U.S. bases at Subic and Clark, northwest of Manila. However, it ratified a pact with the U.S. allowing temporary visits by American forces in 1999, four years after China seized a reef the Philippines contests.
|The United States and the Philippines conducted joint military exercises.|