THE COMPLEX STORY OF U.S. MILITARY BASES IN THE PHILIPPINES
By Buddy Blouin
Depending on who you ask, answers and sentiments will vary. Nevertheless, the United States and the Philippines have a long history together that continues today. From occupation to strategic alignments, the American and Filipino people are connected in their histories. This relationship continues to evolve, and whereas the hope of fewer military bases in the Philippines may be ideal for many reasons, conflicts persist in the region that demand that all sides stay vigilant. Though the relationship between the two governments has changed drastically over the last 120+ years, collaboration remains necessary. Especially as China ramps up the tension in Asia. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi3ycEyWg1w
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Are There Any U.S. Military Bases in the Philippines?No, there are no longer any US military bases in the Philippines. There are still military bases in the Philippines under the control of the Filipino government, but since refusing to renew the lease allowing American bases in 1991, the relationship shifted from a military standpoint. At one point, there were several large American military bases in the Philippines including Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base. While both nations continue to work together on matters of economics, global security, and humanitarian efforts, the list of U.S. military bases in the Philippines is no more. The Philippine-American War eventually created the framework to allow America to gain the Philippines as a colony, and the threat of war in the area may alter the two nations’ relationship yet again. Although America no longer claims control of military bases in the Philippines, joint exercises and preparation have continued throughout time. Now, the prospect of China setting off a powder keg by destabilizing the region with an invasion of Taiwan is opening up new collaborations between the Phillippines and the United States.
A New Deal as Tensions Rise With ChinaToday, Subic Bay in the Philippines is a special economic zone rather than a U.S. military installation. But while access to its old base isn’t available, the U.S. is now being granted access to nine military bases in the Philippines to help prepare for a possible conflict with China. February would lead to a grand announcement for the United States and the Philippines, as the Filipino government announced it was allowing increased access for American troops to more military bases throughout the country in an effort to defend against China’s aggression toward Taiwan. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Manila to secure the deal. This expansion is going to bring the total access to military bases in the Philippines for the U.S. to nine and expand its influence in the process. Additionally, $82 million is being earmarked for infrastructure investments at the five bases already being used by American troops. This agreement marks the largest expansion of military presence for the U.S. in three decades. This expansion may also serve as a warning to China and also coincides with the U.S. opening its first embassy in the Solomon Islands in three decades. Since the U.S. formally left in 1992, the two nations have remained allies, but from a military standpoint, there was a shift. Relations were a bit rocky under the leadership of former Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, but now, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is looking to draw the two nations closer once more.
Military Bases in the Philippines Continue Their Complex Place in HistoryThe US and the Philippines’ military agreement sends a warning to China as tensions flare. Hope remains that such measures can act as a deterrent to full-out conflict or warfare, but if not, they also provide the right level of security to overcome whatever challenges that might arise in the future. Military bases in the Philippines have been used to help stabilize the area, deter warfare, and help America’s allies remain ready for worst-case scenarios. None of this seems to be changing, unfortunately, and while peace is the best option, staying vigilant in the face of further escalation seems to be a high priority for both the United States and its ally, the Philippines.
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