Increased U.S. military presence in Philippines
The U.S. is to increase its military presence in the Philippines, with a five-year joint U.S. – Philippine military exercise plan to be approved by the end of December. The number of U.S. military ships, aircraft and troops in rotation through the Philippines will be increased, as will U.S. defence aid to the Filipino military. The U.S. presence is expected to provide more training exercises for Filipino troops and increased help in humanitarian and disaster relief. There are no plans to open a permanent U.S. military base in the country, the last having been closed in 1992.
“The increased rotation presence is in areas where we have been traditionally exercising” said Philippine Assistant Secretary for U.S. Affairs Carlos Sorreta, continuing that “there are other areas where we have been experiencing more disasters. So we might be expanding exercises there”.
Sorreta emphasised that the meetings with the U.S. were not regarding the ongoing territorial dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea (referred to in Manila as the West Philippine Sea), but added “as public officials answerable to their people and their security, its very difficult not to discuss the West Philippine Sea”.
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