April 27, 2011
ALLIANCE PHILIPPINES PROTESTS POSSIBLE US BASES RETURN TO SUBIC
Los Angeles—The Alliance Philippines or the AJLPP strongly condemned the high-level visits here by American officials who have raised the prospect of a return of the United States’ military presence in this former naval base in Subic on the wake of disasters that hit Japan, which have delayed the planned US military build-up in Guam.
Subic Naval Base was the deepest sea port of the US naval forces in the Philippines. The US naval base closed after the Philippine Senate terminated the US-RP Military Bases Pact in 1991. Only to be reversed later with the passage of the Visiting Forces Agreement during the tenure of Joseph Estrada in 1998.
US Mockery of Philippine sovereignty
US Senators Daniel Inouye of and Thad Cochran visited this free port on Tuesday and met with Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and Olongapo City officials.
The Alliance said that “the return of the US bases will make a mockery of Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity. The US will just make the Subic Naval Base a dagger in the heart of China in its competition for hegemony and resources in the South China Seas.
In March, US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. also met with local officials and briefed them about the impact of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on the transfer of US military bases in Okinawa to Guam. The visit was not announced to reporters here.
Inouye and Cochran, chair and ranking member, respectively, of the US Senate committee on appropriations, appeared to be interested in the possibility of an increased presence of the US military in the country, a source present at the luncheon meeting for the visiting senators hosted by Subic and local officials told the media.
US Military interest
The media source, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said: “Their official reason for being here was to obtain a situationer of developments in the area and to consult with local officials about these.
They even brought their technical staff. During the discussion, they were curious about the reception in the country of an [increased presence of the US military] here.”
The source also said the US embassy “gave strict instructions that [the media] not be allowed to cover the visit.”
“Their embassy arranged the logistics of the visit directly with Olongapo City [officials], and not the SBMA,” the source said.
Facilities in the free port that can be used by the US military, like the airport and seaport, are intact, according to the source.
“Even now, they are already using it as part of the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement). But if they substantially increase their presence here, then the free port can still accommodate them,” the source further said.
The US embassy said Inouye was in Manila with Cochran to meet with Philippine officials to discuss issues of bilateral interest. The two American senators also met with President Benigno Aquino III, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, among other officials.
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