Friday, April 12, 2013

Philippine Defense Chief Floats Possibility of New US Bases in the Philippines

Interesting that local papers are no longer repeating the inaccurate information that the Philippine constitution bans foreign military bases. It never has done that. It requires a treaty and a referendum. Some have argued that the longtime Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and the Philippines is all that is needed under the current constitution to set up a US military base in the country. Though no opinion polls have been conducted recently, anecdotal evidence indicates that the US military remains well-liked in the Philippines with a small vocal group being the principal opposition. Gazmin's comments are a clear departure from previous statements, in which he said outright that bases are out of the question. And it should also be kept in mind that during the last major emergency in the United States, the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the United States opened a US military base in Zamboanga with about 500 troops and that base is still there and operational today.

Korea emergency: US may set up bases here if...
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - In case of extreme emergency resulting from the developing security crisis in the Korean peninsula, US troops may be allowed to set up bases in the Philippines, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said yesterday.

Gazmin noted that under the Constitution, foreign troops are barred from establishing a permanent presence in the country, a law that forced the shutdown of Clark Air Base in Pampanga and Subic Naval Base in Zambales – formerly the biggest military facilities outside the US.

“Right now our Constitution does not allow that but in cases of extreme emergency then there are extreme measures to be undertaken. Maybe this is one of them,” Gazmin said.

Gazmin made the statement in response to questions if the US would be allowed to set up their bases in the country in the event the Korean conflict turns into a full-blown war.

But Gazmin also pointed out the absence of US bases in the country is already being compensated by joint training and exercises as well as increased rotational presence.

At present 8,000 Filipino and US servicemen are conducting the annual joint Balikatan military drill in Central Luzon.
Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Defense spokesman Peter Paul Galvez, meanwhile, clarified the extreme emergency being referred to by Gazmin is a scenario where North Korea would launch a nuclear strike on South Korea, the US and its allies.

In a disaster forum held at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday, Gazmin said the country has already drawn up its own contingency plan.

“We have to be prepared. We should prepare for this contingency. Our number one concern is the evacuation of our countrymen in South Korea and those who are near the conflict zone. We are just hoping that we are not going to implement this contingency plan at all,” he said.

Gazmin earlier said the defense department, in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), has placed on standby two of its C-130 Hercules planes and three transport ships of the Philippine Navy, ready to depart for South Korea to pick up and transport home the 40,000 Filipinos working and living there in case war breaks out.

However, under the country’s Nuclear Research Institute (NRI) designed three-level contingency plan, the current situation is still normal, Gazmin said.

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