Monday, May 27, 2013

Pentagon: US not reestablishing bases in the Philippines

Pentagon: US not reestablishing bases in the Philippines
By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor
Variety News Staff

EVEN as the U.S. pivots toward Asia, it is not considering reviving its former military bases in the Philippines according to the Pentagon.

Defense Press Officer for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Lt. Col. Cathy Wilkinson told Variety, “The United States does not seek to re-establish military bases in the Philippines. We fully respect the Philippine constitution, which restricts conditions for the establishment of foreign military bases and the entry of foreign forces.”

Lt. Col. Wilkinson said that when U.S. forces visit Philippine military bases, they work in cooperation with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. 

“U.S. troops are instructed to behave as guests and fully respect the sovereignty of the Philippines.  We have no intention or desire to change this method of operations,” assured Wilkinson.

Other media reports claim there could be a revival of the former Subic Naval Base and Clark Air Base in the Philippines in the face of the tensions in the Korean peninsula and in the South China Sea.

The Pentagon clarifies the United States is not reopening the bases.

"We appreciate the close support of the Philippines government to allow U.S. ships and aircraft to call in Subic Bay and Clark Field. The Philippines continue to provide logistical service at these converted facilities due to their strategic locations and extensive capacity.  Any U.S. forces present are there temporarily and approved by the government of the Republic of the Philippines,” said Lt. Col. Wilkinson.

She added, “As a Pacific nation, the United States has a national interest in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, freedom of navigation, and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea.  We support a collaborative and diplomatic process by all claimants to resolve their disputes.   

The United States opposes the use of coercion, intimidation, threats, or force by any claimant to advance its claims.  We believe all parties should pursue their territorial and maritime claims in accordance with international law, including as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.”

Lt. Wilkinson also said that the United States supports efforts by the Association of South East Asian Nations and China to make meaningful progress toward finalizing a comprehensive Code of Conduct in order to establish rules of the road and clear procedures for addressing disagreements. 

“The United States continues to pursue a principles-based policy on the South China Sea.  We do not take a position on competing sovereignty claims over land features in the South China Sea,” said Lt. Col. Wilkinson.

Asked for comment regarding talks in Japan to amend Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution and change the top law to stipulate that the Self-Defense Forces are a military force, Lt. Col. Wilkinson said, “Collective self-defense is a decision for Japan to make.  The Defense Department welcomes Japan's efforts to assume a larger role on the world stage, including in defense issues.  Japan is one of our closest allies and global partners; our alliance has been the cornerstone of peace and security in the region for more than 60 years."

According to Wikipedia, Subic Naval Base was a major U.S. Navy ship-repair, supply, and rest and recreation facility. Its Navy Exchange had the largest volume of sales of any exchange in the world, and the Naval Supply Depot handled the largest volume of fuel oil of any navy facility in the world.

This naval base became the U.S. Seventh Fleet forward base for repair during the height of the Vietnam War.
Subic base was closed in 1992, a year after Clark Air Base’s closure.

Clark Air Base, named after Maj. Harold M. Clark, of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, was closed in 1991 following the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.

This was a United States military facility from 1903 to 1991.

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