The United States has no plans to establish permanent military bases in the Philippines but is committed to helping its strategic ally to build its own “modern military,” visiting US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced yesterday.
A new model of military cooperation, particularly the proposed increased access of the US to Philippine military facilities, will instead be pursued to boost defense capability, according to Hagel.
The visiting Pentagon chief met President Aquino in Malacañang and tackled the progress of the negotiations for proposed framework agreement on the increased rotational presence of US troops.
His visit comes amid fresh tension between the Philippines and China over conflict in the West Philippine Sea with President Aquino recently cancelling a visit to China.
“The United States does not seek permanent bases in the Philippines that would represent a return to an outdated cold war mentality. Instead, we are using a new model of military to military cooperation befitting to great allies and friends, and looking to increase our rotational presence here, as we have done recently in Singapore and Australia,” Hagel said in a joint press conference with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin at the Palace.
“Such an arrangement would benefit both our militaries by increasing our ability to train and operate together. Deepening engagement opportunities between our forces will further support President Aquino’s defense modernization agenda,” he added.
The Philippines and the United States are in the middle of negotiations for a new military pact that would allow greater US access to the country’s military bases. Once approved, the arrangement may facilitate more joint training exercises between the US and Filipino troops as well as pave the way for more US military aid to the Philippines.
Citing the “deep and unbreakable alliance” between the two countries, Hagel said the United States is committed to the Mutual Defense Treaty which has become the foundation of the defense alliance between the two countries for more than 60 years.
Hagel said the United States has “a great deal of experience in building a modern military” and it would like “to share what we’ve learned with our Filipino allies.”
He explained that the proposed framework agreement on increased rotational presence would “strengthen cooperation between our two militaries and help them work together more effectively so both now and in the future.”
“This progress is welcome and encouraging. I noted that our negotiating teams are working hard to finish the framework agreement in the near future,” he added. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)