The Barack Obama odyssey

President Barack Obama, left, and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III participate in a bilateral meeting at …

United States President Barack Obama came, spoke and essentially reiterated the previous US commitments to the Philippines. In return, it gained wider latitude for its forces in this part of the world, particularly in its access to additional Philippine bases and their longer stay in more numbers.

To be sure, the Philippines got the reassurance it wants—that the US will support the modernization of the Philippine armed forces, and that it stands for the peaceful settlement of its territorial dispute with China, including the bringing of the Philippines of its case to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.

President Obama also called on China to observe international norms and settle peacefully its territorial dispute with the Philippines.

Additionally, both President Obama and Philippine President Aquino noted enhanced cooperation on economic relations, disaster response, veteran affairs, immigration issues, and cultural exchanges. However, the meat of the matter is the new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Under the agreement, the Philippines gave additional access to several naval and air bases, including the former US bases in Subic Bay and Clark, the new Oyster Bay base in Palawan and several others in northern Luzon and in Mindanao.

Permanent US facilities will be built inside these bases for US use in the next 10 years, subject to extension. These will not be subject to command and supervision by Filipino base commanders, although these may be subjected to their inspection.

President Obama stopped short of guaranteeing US defense of Filipino territory and forces if under attacked in contested territories, although he drew the line at ensuring free aerial and naval movements. US does not recognize both Chinese and Philippine claims to waters it considers as international waters, including much of South China Sea and parts of Sulu Sea.

It is also on record that, ironically, the US is not a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), upon which the Philippines anchor its claim to the West Philippine Sea. It however by and large supports this and other international customary laws in its practice, without formally committing itself to it.

In the same manner, China wants the US and the rest of the international community to recognize its “nine-dash line” territorial delineation through realpolitik and not by abiding with UNCLOS. This logic led it to reject the path of international arbitration. What it got instead was US firm, realpolitik-based, rejection of its claims.

Thus, President Obama’s message was clear. It is not prepared yet to countenance Chinese redrawing of territorial boundaries. At the same time, he indirectly admonished the Philippines to ratchet downwards its rhetoric on territorial dispute.

The US pivot to Asia wants to produce a rebalancing of interests in Asia, under US leadership. The question remains the same: will China play? President Obama’s visit did not produce a clear answer but rather beg the question.


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US renews travel warning to Mindanao
    US renews travel warning to Mindanao

    The US State Department renewed its warning about the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu archipelago, certain regions and cities of Mindanao and the southern Sulu Sea area. In an update on Wednesday of a travel warning it issued Nov. 20, 2014, the State Department said US citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu archipelago due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there. …

  • Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda
    Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda

    The Philippine initiative to put the interests of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) front and center in global and regional trade has made significant progress following the conclusion on Thursday of the 2nd APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings in Boracay, Aklan. Called “The Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs,” the Philippine proposal calls for a host of specific, concrete and practical interventions that APEC economies can implement to provide MSMEs wider …

  • Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week
    Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week

    The Philippines will join a 15-nation meeting in Bangkok, Thailand next week to address the migration crisis involving thousands of Rohingyas who escaped persecution in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima bared this yesterday after meeting with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representative to the Philippines Bernard Kerblat. In an interview, De Lima said the Philippine government has been invited to the meeting. …

  • Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon
    Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon

    LEGAZPI CITY—A magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit Prieto Diaz town in Sorsogon before dawn yesterday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. …

  • Drought-resistant rice breeds bared
    Drought-resistant rice breeds bared

    SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija – Amid the searing heat, the Philippine Rice Research Institute central experiment station here has identified nine rice breeds which have been proven to be drought-resistant and produce high yields in temperatures as high as 38°C based on a recent study. Thelma Padolina, lead researcher of the study titled “Screening of rice-induced mutants for heat and drought tolerance,” identified the breeding lines as the Ballatinaw lines, PSB Rc72H and Azucena lines. …

  • Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning
    Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning

    The United States military will continue air and sea patrols in international waters even after the Chinese navy repeatedly warned a US surveillance plane to leave the airspace over artificial islands China is creating in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippine government also declared it would continue activities in the region, calling on China to respect freedom of navigation and aviation. “Our position on the importance of letting freedom of navigation, freedom of aviation and …

  • MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned
    MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned

    Electricity and mobile phone services would be cut throughout Metro Manila, and all private and government offices and businesses, including shopping malls, would be closed. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has warned that an earthquake of that magnitude could occur and kill at least 33,500 people and injure at least 113,600 others following a movement in the West Valley Fault. The West Valley Fault has moved four times in the past 1,400 years at an interval …

  • Subaru XV now priced among sedans
    Subaru XV now priced among sedans

    Motor Image Philipinas (MIP), the authorized distributor of Subaru in the country, has positioned its brand new crossover SUV, the Subaru XV, well within the sedan segment’s price range. This move, according to MIP, was made to give the public an opportunity to experience the brand’s unique automotive technologies by lowering its price. Buyers of […] The post Subaru XV now priced among sedans appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options