The United States of America made a 10-year defense pact with the Philippines allowing more US troops in the South East Asian country.
White House officials announced this last Sunday, right before President Barrack Obama’s visit to the Philippines Monday, which was his last stop in his Asian tour. Before the Philippines, Obama came from Japan, South Korea and Malaysia in this four-part Asian trip.
Asian affairs National Security Council senior director Evan Medeiros said the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement is a major defense agreement between the US and the Philippines. This agreement went through eight long months of negotiation before it reached an agreement recently. The agreement allows US forces to station planes and ships in selected Philippine bases.
The two parties involved are yet to come up with the size, location and duration of the increased presence of US troops in the Philippines.
This is a big step for the Obama administration’s move towards Asia, where China is the rising power and territorial disputes are rampant in the South and East China seas.
The Philippines could use additional support, while the US could use this opportunity to strengthen its presence in Southeast Asia and make sure that the freedom to navigate in those waters will remain.
The Philippines has been scrambling for support for its long time territorial dispute against giant China in the Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands.
During the meetings and press conferences, Obama made sure that he wouldn’t antagonize China.
In Obama’s South Korean stop Friday, he said they do not plan to contain China. He said they wan to see China rise peacefully since it is a responsible and powerful part in upholding the international systems and rule of law.
Strat for Asia Pacific Analysis vice president Rodger Baker said increased US presence in the Philippines will only increase the tension between China and other countries, but it may balance the weighing scale between China and other smaller countries, which may just help avoid any further conflict.
According to statistics, over 80% of Filipinos are in favour for the increased US troops in the Philippines. This is the highest approval rating for the US in the world. The Philippines has a great relationship with the US for a very long time. From 1989 to 1946, the Philippines has been an American colony. Despite this overwhelming support, issues on national pride and sovereignty might still surface.