Thursday, June 27, 2013

DND chief clarifies: PH not constructing air, naval bases in Subic

Subic, VFA, military base
MANILA, Philippines —  Voltaire Gazmin, Philippines Defense Secretary clarified news report that said that the Philippine military was planning to build new air and naval bases in Subic Bay that can be utilized by American forces.

He said that the Philippine government is studying a proposal that will give the United States and Japan greater access to its military bases, to counter the rising security threat from China.

The government is initially drafting a plan that would allow US forces to spend more time on Filipino bases, something that could also be offered to Japan’s military later, Gazmin said.

“If and when there is agreement on the access, then there will be equipment coming in from the United States,” Gazmin said. “Now as far as Japan is concerned, we do welcome other countries — particularly Japan since Japan is a strategic partner — in accordance with our existing protocols.”

A news report earlier quoted a senior officials from the Philippine Navy as saying that the plans of building air and naval bases at Subic Bay could be used by American forces “to counter China’s creeping presence in the disputed South China Sea.” And that the Navy has yet to formally present its P10 billion-base development plan to President Benigno Aquino III.

Subic Bay was once a United States military base for nearly a century until 1992, when the Philippine Senate voted 12-11 to reject a new bases treaty with the US. A ratification of the Visiting Forces Agreement in 1999 paved the way for large-scale joint military exercises such as “Balikatan” and Carat (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training), among others, between Philippine and US troops.

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