Monday, March 21, 2016

US, Philippines Announce Locations Covered by Defense Pact

The US and the Philippines announced Friday five locations where American forces will have access under a new defense pact, including one facing disputed islands in the South China Sea.
The announcement came at strategic talks in Washington, where the allies reiterated their opposition to the militarization of outposts in those waters, where six Asian governments have competing claims.
China has built artificial islands with airstrips and military facilities as it asserts its claim to virtually all the South China Sea, including land features claimed by the Philippines.
Another of the five Philippine military bases where the US will have access is on southern Mindanao island, where the US is concerned about the presence of Muslim extremist groups.
The 10-year defense pact was signed by US and Philippine officials in 2014, but it only got the green light this January after the Philippine Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional. It is a key part of the Obama administration effort to reassert its presence in Asia.
Philip Goldberg, the US ambassador to the Philippines, said the pact would allow the US to rotate more forces and military assets through that country on a basis of mutual agreement with Manila. It can also conduct construction and position supplies, including for humanitarian relief.
Goldberg said the US is not establishing its own bases as it had in the Philippines until 1992. more