US pledges Philippines support on Aquino visit

The United States pledged Thursday to help the Philippines step up its defenses in the face of a rising China as it welcomes President Benigno Aquino, seen by US officials as a promising partner.

President Barack Obama will meet Friday at the White House with Aquino, who has raised the profile of the Philippines in Washington through his pledges to tackle corruption and to boost the military relationship with the United States.

Top US military officer General Martin Dempsey, who met Aquino on Monday in Manila, said that he spoke about expanding cooperation with the former US colony beyond recent efforts focused on fighting Islamic insurgents.

The Philippines "has been inward-focused on its internal terrorism and insurgent issues for some time -- for decades really -- and so have a very limited capability to project power or to influence activities around it," said Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We think that they need some of that, particularly in maritime security," Dempsey told reporters in Washington.

The United States has already been helping to upgrade the notoriously antiquated Philippine military and Aquino has agreed to let a greater number of US troops rotate -- but not set up bases -- in the archipelago.

An Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the two leaders on Friday would review defense ties and also "talk about the work ahead in broadening cooperation."

The cooperation comes as the Philippines -- a US treaty ally -- sees particularly tense relations with China, which has butted heads with a number of its neighbors in recent years over territorial disputes in strategic waters.

Friction escalated in April when Chinese and Philippine vessels approached the Scarborough Shoal, which lies near the main Philippine island of Luzon. Manila says the rock formation falls within its exclusive economic zone, but China claims the shoal along with nearly all of the South China Sea.

Dempsey said he spoke with Aquino about the need to "ensure freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea.

Dempsey said that he and Aquino did not discuss the disputes in themselves but "we certainly called on all claimants to resolve these issues through existing international fora and without coercion."

The Obama administration has pledged a growing focus on Asia, with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announcing last week that the United States would shift the majority of its naval fleet to the Pacific by 2020.

China has voiced uneasiness about the Obama administration's effort in Asia, with some Chinese scholars suspecting that a declining United States is trying to hold back a rising Beijing.

Dempsey denied any such effort and, in line with frequent comments by US officials, said that the US military brought stability to Asia.

"I (have) assured anyone that chose to ask me the question -- our strategy and rebalancing to the Pacific is not intended to contain China," Dempsey said.

Obama also plans to discuss trade with Aquino, including measures the Philippines would need to take for eventual participation in talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an emerging trade pact, an official said.

Ernie Bower, director of the Southeast Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he expected strong US support for the Philippines on the South China Sea.

But he said that an emphasis on trade during Aquino's visit could serve as a balance after concerns in the region that the United States has focused too much on the military side of its efforts in Asia.

"The United States is very bullish on Aquino. He's got the economy cranking and he wants to step forward on the political/military side," Bower said.

The president, son of democracy heroine Corazon Aquino, recently won a high-profile battle in his campaign against corruption with the sacking of the country's top judge.

Loading...

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.

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. During the assault, Kim screamed a slogan in favour of …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile
    Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes granting Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile house arrest, while former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains under hospital detention, will violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution. “That’s already a violation of the equal protection of the law,” she said. …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

  • 8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study
    8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study

    Eight of 10 world cities most exposed to natural hazards are in the Philippines and more than half of the 100 cities most exposed to earthquakes, storms and other disasters are in four Asian nations, according to a research. The study, published on Wednesday by risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft, analyzed the threat posed by storms, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, volcanoes and landslides in more than 1,300 cities. The study found that the 10 cities most at risk are Port Vila in …

  • Ex-crew recognizes photos of sunken Japanese battleship
    Ex-crew recognizes photos of sunken Japanese battleship

    TOKYO (AP) — A former crewmember on a Japanese battleship that sank during World War II said Thursday he recognized photos of wreckage discovered this week off the Philippines by a team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options