Rp-Us Visiting Forces Agreement

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INTRODUCTION

The United States and the Republic of the Philippines maintain close ties based upon the U.S.- Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, the period of U.S. colonization, common strategic and economic interests, and shared democratic values. The United States long maintained sizable naval and air forces bases in the country. Although the Philippine Senate voted against U.S. wishes to close American military installations in 1992, bilateral security cooperation resumed following territorial disputes between the Philippines and China in 1994 and the launching of the Global War on Terrorism in 2002. After 2001, the Philippines received one of the most dramatic increases in U.S. foreign aid in Southeast Asia, largely for counterterrorism purposes, including not only military assistance but also health, education, and economic assistances in Muslim areas in Mindanao (Lum, 2011).

Historically, the United States under international and domestic pressure, granted the Philippines its independence in 1946 with the Tydings-McDuffie Act. However this was not until after the US had effectively constructed the liberal-democratic political foundation, the public educational system, and the socioeconomic infrastructure of the country. With this in effect, in addition to its past relationship with the United States as a colony, the Philippine government to this day remains one of the constant allies of the United States. Furthermore, with the existence of bilateral economic and military arrangements between the two nations, and in spite of the withdrawal of US troops from Philippine soil in 1991, the Philippines continually sides with US policy and supports American overseas involvement (Shalom, 1986 ). This is not a one sided relationship. The Philippines is of strategic interest to the US. Situated on the western edge of the South China Sea, the country serves as a perfect launching point for military intervention into Southeast Asia, as well as Northeastern Asia and the Middle East. In addition, the Philippines is of economic and political importance to the United States (Hull, 1996). Recognizing the strategic importance of the island nation in the region, the United States made sure that before the country was freed from American control that the succeeding administration would sign a series of defense treaties that would provide the United States with exclusive access to its national territory( Hull, 1996 ).

In light of the Filipino colonial mentality, US strategic interests in the Philippines, and the long history of Moro-Christian conflict in the region, the Philippines seems to serve as an excellent site to launch the second front to the war on terror (Radics, 2004 ). However, this argument ignores the importance of public sentiment, which has persistently had an anti-US position. Furthermore, the pro-US front in Filipino politics has become highly fragmented (The Philippine Star, 2003 ). Also, the alliance of anti-US nationalists which had, after the People Power Revolution of 1986, united to remove one of the most ubiquitous signs of neocolonial control in the Philippines – the US military bases – has made conducting military operations in the country very difficult. Since neither this nationalist spirit nor the enduring sentiment opposed to US neo-colonialism has abated, an all out war in the region would not be possible. Thus, as the United States launched its “war on terrorism” in Southeast Asia via the Philippines, it had to be very practical in approaching this complicated situation. With a Philippine House of Representatives and Senate that was split by ideological positions, motivated by the desire for reelection, possessing genuine anti-US sentiment, and facing a largely anti-US public, the United States had to draw upon existing bilateral military agreements as well as lean on the constant support of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when it began its military intervention in the Philippines...
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