Philip­pines de­fence pact boosts US in­flu­ence

Daily Trust - - WORLD -

US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has ar­rived in the Philip­pines in a visit widely seen as of a part of Wash­ing­ton’s “pivot to Asia strat­egy.”

Obama landed just hours af­ter Philip­pine De­fence Sec­re­tary Voltaire Gazmin and US Am­bas­sador to the Philip­pines Philip Gold­berg signed a new mil­i­tary agree­ment al­low­ing more troops in the coun­try. The Philip­pine govern­ment said the pact is an af­fir­ma­tion “of the ro­bust and en­dur­ing strate­gic part­ner­ship be­tween” the two al­lies.

Talk­ing to re­porters in Manila, Gold­berg, said that the new agree­ment will not al­low the re­open­ing of US bases in the Philip­pines, some­thing that has been op­posed by na­tion­al­ist forces and is pro­hib­ited by the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion.

But the agree­ment es­sen­tially al­lows US ac­cess to Philip­pine mil­i­tary bases across the coun­try. Se­na­tor Miriam De­fen­sorSan­ti­ago, chair­man of the Philip­pines Se­nate Com­mit­tee on For­eign Af­fairs, told Al Jazeera that the agree­ment has “mar­ginal ad­van­tages” for the coun­try, and is more ben­e­fi­cial to the US.

With the sign­ing of the agree­ment, San­ti­ago said the US “could claim that it has ‘con­tained’ China, be­cause the Asian coun­tries in­volved, in­clud­ing the Philip­pines, are now bound by their re­spec­tive agree­ments with Amer­ica”.

“It would make the Philip­pines sounds as if we are a satel­lite ally of Amer­ica,” she said. Anti-China sen­ti­ments have been on the rise in the Philip­pines, which is en­gaged with Bei­jing over dis­puted atolls in the po­ten­tially oil- and gas­rich South China Sea, with both coun­tries claim­ing Scar­bor­ough Shoal and Sec­ond Thomas Shoal as their own.

The Philip­pines has ac­cused Bei­jing of be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ag­gres­sive in stak­ing its claims to the sea, and has called on the US for greater mil­i­tary as well as diplo­matic sup­port.

Obama with Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Beningo Aquino [AP].

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.