The Philippines’ foreign minister, Alberto Del Rosario, publicly offered the use of its military bases to the United States “…if it went to war with North Korea”.
“Our mutual defense treaty calls for joint action if either the Philippines or the United States is attacked,” del Rosario said in comments sent to AFP at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.
“It would then be logical to assume that in the event of an attack on the Philippines or on our treaty ally, the US would be allowed to use our bases,” he added.
Del Rosario was responding to a question about whether the archipelago, a former US colony, would allow the stationing of American troops on its soil in case war broke out between the US and North Korea.
The Korean peninsula has been engulfed by escalating military tensions and dire threats of nuclear war since North Korea conducted a rocket test last December and a nuclear test in February.
On Friday Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the government was prepared to undertake “extreme measures” including allowing US bases in the country, in the event of an “extreme emergency” on the Korean peninsula.
Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan)’s secretary general, Renato M. Reyes, Jr. was not happy, viewing the invitation as a “violation of the constitution” and a “levelling up” (sic) of the U.S. military presence.
“Secretary Voltaire Gazmin is out of line, out of this world and maybe out of his mind when he suggested that a US war with Korea will justify the return of US bases. In the first place, why would we want the Philippines dragged into an armed conflict not of our making and not in our national interest? Why allow the Philippines to be used again as a staging ground for US military intervention in Asia? We were already the staging ground during the Vietnam War and the Gulf War of 1991,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“The Cold War relic that is the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty obliges Philippine support for the US but does not automatically mean US support if the Philippines is attacked. There is a double standard there. We should abandon this antiquated and grossly one-sided pact,” he added.
“Even without formal US bases, the US troops are already accorded virtual basing opportunities. This is in stark violation of the Constitution, because the VFA is not supposed to be a basing treaty. This anomaly has been going on for more than a decade now. They call it rotational presence, but in reality, it is a permanent and continuing presence. It is actual basing of troops. It is the actual entry of ships any time of the year to use PH facilities,” Reyes said.
“The DND cites the MDT as the basis of the extended stay of US troops in the Philippines. That’s hogwash. We invite him to re-read the MDT because nowhere in the agreement could you find the words ‘extended stay’. And nowhere in the agreement will you find the words “basing”. The DND is clearly misleading the public,” he added.
“The DND cannot invoke the prospect of war in justifying the violation of the Constitution. What the DND is doing however is trying to conceal Aquino’s continuing violation of the Constitution, of allowing the permanent and continuing presence of US troops even without a formal basing treaty as required by the Charter,” he added.
Manila has said Del Rosario’s remarks had nothing to do with permanent basing, but were limited to the North Korea crisis. But, this in the context of a diplomatic standoff with China over the Tubbataha reef, an American general’s invitation for foreign military forces to participate in annual Balikatan exercises, and the deployment of a sea-based radar system.
A powerful US military sea-based radar is now in place to detect any possible missile launches by North Korea, according to a senior US defense official.
“The SBX is in position,” the defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP late Wednesday.
The official would not offer more details but confirmed the SBX, a floating X-band radar that resembles a giant golf ball, had reached a location at sea where it could track missiles fired by the Pyongyang regime.
The floating X-band radar, which sits atop a platform similar to an oil rig, had been stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
The SBX radar, which is 85 meters (280 feet) tall and operated by civilian contractors, is supposed to detect missile launches over a range of at least 2,000 kilometers.
I think The Philippines is giving up way too much, just to smack Beijing’s nose for incursions in the South China Sea.