Sunday, July 5, 2015

• Philippines Exploring Allowing U.S. and Japan More Use of Bases By: Sam LaGrone

Philippines Exploring Allowing U.S. and Japan More Use of Bases
By: Sam LaGrone
fb: The Disputed West Philippine Sea

USS Enterprise (CVN-65) at Subic Bay in 1993. US Navy Photo
The Philippines plan to give greater access to U.S. and Japanese allies to military bases including the former U.S. Naval Station Subic Bay, Philippine defense officials said Thursday in a report in Reuters.



The report comes in tandem with reports, the military is preparing a proposal to expand leftover U.S. bases after the Pentagons removed its forces in 1992.

According to the report, Philippine naval leaders are preparing a $230 million plan to base development bases as hedges against increased Chinese expansion into the South China Sea.

The military expects to present the plan to President Benigno Aquino, according to the report.

The base expansion plan follows the 2012 approval of the Philippine Congress of a $1.8 billion expansion of military equipment to modernize Philippine forces.

“The chances of this plan taking off under President Aquino are high because his administration has been very supportive in terms of equipment upgrade,” a senior military officer who asked not to be identified told Reuters.
“The people around him understood our needs and more importantly, what our country is facing at this time.”

However, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said no decisions were final in response to the report on Thursday.

Gazmin did say the government is still working on a plan to expand the U.S. and Japan access to Philippine military bases.

“If and when there is agreement on the access, then there will be equipment coming in from the (United) States,” Gazmin told a joint news conference in Manila after meeting with visiting Japan Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera reported the Philippine website Inquirer.net.

“Now as far as Japan is concerned, we do welcome other countries — particularly Japan since Japan is a strategic partner — in accordance with our existing protocols.”

The Philippine Navy recently accepted delivery of a former U.S. Hamilton-class Coast Guard cutter into their fleet.

The re-christened BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) left Charleston, S.C. for Manila earlier this month.