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  • U.S. Ship for Philippines a Good Start, But Much More to Be Done

    Today, upon inspecting the Philippine navy’s newest flagship, the 115-meter Gregario del Pilar, Philippine President Benigno Aquino declared that the ship “symbolises our newly acquired ability to guard, protect, and if necessary, fight for the interests of our country.” Vice Admiral Alexander Pama of the Philippine navy went further in expressing that the new flagship “symbolises the revival of the Philippine navy.”

    It is hard to believe then, after hearing such lofty praise, that this new flagship is actually a refurbished former U.S. Coast Guard vessel that was built in 1965 and has seen some 44 years of service. Sounds meager until you consider that it replaces a U.S.-built destroyer that has been in use since 1943.

    The changeover in flagships points to the Philippines’ urgent need for maritime defense capability. It has to start its modernization somewhere, and developing an ability—however nascent—to more regularly patrol Philippine-claimed waters in the South China Sea is the best place to start.

    U.S. officials can learn two important lessons from the enthusiasm that greeted the introduction of the Gregario del Pilar. First, the Philippines is fully committed to improving its territorial defense. Second, the U.S.–Philippine alliance remains extremely relevant in preserving stability across the Asia-Pacific.

    Despite historically dedicating its security policies toward countering domestic separatism, President Aquino’s government realizes the danger posed by continued Chinese adventurism in the South China Sea. Since February, Chinese military vessels on several occasions have harassed Philippine fishing boats and energy survey ships in waters mere miles from Philippine territory.

    China has vociferously defended its claim to the entire South China Sea, referred to by Chinese leadership as its “blue soil,” and recently unveiled its first aircraft carrier. President Aquino, in unveiling his new flagship so soon before his state visit to Beijing next week, is sending a strong message to Beijing that the Philippines will not be bullied so near its own shores.

    Earlier this month, The Heritage Foundation released a report entitled “U.S.–Philippines Partnership in the Cause of Maritime Defense,” and U.S. policymakers would do well to heed its recommendations and stand by the U.S.–Philippine alliance.

    First, beyond the pressing need to fully fund its own Navy, the U.S. should prioritize the Philippines to receive excess defense articles. The fanfare that greeted a Vietnam War–era Coast Guard vessel should remind the Pentagon that the Philippines operates an aging fleet of less than 80 ships; therefore, any excess ships would have a tremendous effect on ensuring regional stability.

    Second, the U.S. should explore various lend-lease programs to provide the Philippines’ armed forces with the hardware it needs to maintain a sufficient defense capability. Finally, the U.S. should continue to offer support to the Philippines by reaffirming our mutual defense obligations and ensuring freedom of navigation across the region.

    On August 30, the U.S. and the Philippines will celebrate the 60th anniversary of their alliance. In continuing to provide the Philippines with the means to protect its territorial integrity, the U.S. should ensure that the alliance can continue to flourish for the next 60 years.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    18 Responses to U.S. Ship for Philippines a Good Start, But Much More to Be Done

    1. Hector Gomz says:

      It's ironic that, while the Philippine Navy "rejoices" when it finally acquired the former "decomissioned" Hamilton class cutter, Vietnam at the same time acquires it's second "new" and much superior guided missile frigate. It's unthinkable that the US is "over-emphasizing" the US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty enough, while the ships being offered to the Philippines are way less capable compared to the much superior Chinese frigates, not to mention the rest of it's Asian navies. And this is only the navy, the Philippines also has a need of modern aircrafts. It's president has announced it will acquire "trainer jets" but no fighter aircrafts. How can a "trainer aircraft" be used to intercept fighter jets from China? That's a laughable situation indeed. Can the US at least offer a squadron of F-16's to the Philippines?

      • My two cents says:

        Hector, they did. your government was offered F-16 and OIiver Perry CIass frigates in the past. They didnt want them because of the impending asian financiaI crisis. they where embargoed aircraft offered too phiI. You cannot fIy or saiI equipment your not currentIy ready too use. Your peopIe have a need for stuf they can use NOW. That is, they know how it functions and operates. From this evoIution wiII come greater things. If your peopIe want that equipment i dont think its opposed here. They may want new stuff by that time and the truth is they can buy it somewhat cheaper from some other countries. However, if they want american hardware by aII means we want you too have it. My own opinion is yes..this is going too happen. but im not on the inside of anything too say for sure…. But the state department made an officiaI statement they wiII honor the treaty. I beIeive that too be true or they wouId say nothing instead. TruthfuIIy i think your peopIe just dont feeI as of yet they are ready for that equipment. It wouId rust sitting. You dont have the piIots or tecnicians at this time too keep it working or use it. Your trying too acquire those skiII sets now as we speak.

    2. Hector Gomez says:

      Too often, even filipinos are criticizing the US for giving it's Philippiine ally "junk" armaments. And when you look further to the West like Pakistan, the US had invested billions of dollars to arm the Pakistanis with modern jet fighter aircrafts, etc. when that nation is not even a proven ally of the US, and left the Philippines, it's proven ally, with less capable weapons to defend itself. Have you seen the fly-by propeller driven aircrafts to welcome the BRP Gregorio del Pilar? What a pity.

    3. Jon says:

      While I was in the Navy, I made a number of trips to the Phillipines. The Navy had a major facility on Subic Bay and the Air Force had Clark AFB. The last time I checked, the Phillipine Government kicked the US Military out of their country. I see no reason why the Phillipine Government should receive any priority from the US Government..

      • Rod says:

        The U. S. military were in those bases for almost a century, and what did the Philippine military get out of that? In any case, states do not act on the basis of emotional attachments to the past but the need of the present and out of current national interest.

        • My two cents says:

          wrong rod. I dont feeI that way as both my parents where there in WW2. my mother was interred at santo thomas and my father was a patrooper that Iiberated corrieghidor (my speIIing sucks). Im sorry too say some time has passed now and this new generation are ignorant of history. They think, ohhhh thats oId stuff….it can never happen again…wrong! it can and wiII. I venture too guess if you asked 60% of young aduIts aged 21 too 30 they wouIdnt have a cIue about battaan or anything reIated too it. Truth is they just dont know……

      • Hector Gomez says:

        The events in 1994 was more of a political grandstanding by the 12 senators who voted no for the stay of the bases, which was also heavily influenced by the small, yet vocal, leftist anti-US pro-communist movements. If a referendum was held back then, and even now, the US bases would have stayed. But either way, the US-Philippine relationship has not really been compromised by those events. One of the main reasons is the set of democratic principles that both countries share and hold dear unlike any other countries in Asia. Second, the Philippines is of strategic importance for the security of the Asia-Pacific region, particularly the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea area. If China controls that part, they can easily project their defense and control by their navy and deprive the US free movement which could undermine its military capability in responding to a crisis should it break out. The US couldn't afford to let China's naval ambitions take another foothold.

      • My two cents says:


        If that Iogic is how we want to go then how do we expIain having as aIIies two former enemies that committed atrocious war crimes during WW2 ? (beheadings, rape, torture, mass kiIIing). Second, the truth is this, Marcos was our boy, we supported the SOB and the peopIe there couId not stand him. In retaIiation to some degree they wanted us too Ieave……but aII of this is oId news…now its time too deaI with todays worId. We never fought the phiIippines and they have been nothing but aIIies. we had a major faIIing out. Thats not a war. its caIIed a disagreement! FrankIy, we shouId have been better visitors…there is Iots of bIame too share in this deaI. Our european aIIies wouId NEVER Iet us run a base in a soIitary manner as we did at subic or CIark. we share joint basing situations. To me that shouId be the modeI going forward. In addition the phiIippines is in the frontyard of the worIds most key shipping Ianes. ControI of those Ianes are the key choke points east and west and north and south. If you dont think china doesnt want them your crazy. pride and ego are very expensive especiaIIy when many Iives resecuring those area's in time of confIict wouId be many.

    4. Ben says:

      If the tension on South China Sea intensifies, the world will witness global realignment into Allied and Axis powers as a prelude to First World Naval War. Presently, all nine states that touch the South China Sea are more or less arrayed against China and, therefore, dependent on the United States for diplomatic and military support. The South China Sea has increasingly become an armed camp, as the claimants build up and modernize their navies, even as the scramble for islands and reefs in recent decades is mostly over. War or no war, will this realignment translate into another bi-polar world of post-WWII? Analysts have their fingers crossed but given the economic growth and fast industrialization of China, the world is already on the road to a bi-polar world. Read more at: http://pksecurity.blogspot.com/2011/08/towards-bi

    5. Julius A. Maestrado says:

      Being a believer of Freedom and Democracy in which we inherited from our distant relative the United States of America we the Filipino people are thankful for the assistance and supports we received.

      It is undeniable that our capability status to protect our sovereignty as a nation against the giant like China is incomparable and no match at all.

      Like a small brother of a Great Nation of the United States of America we are asking your support to help and protect us from the aggression of China.

      In GOD we trust as we trusted you as our Big brother.

    6. Mike says:

      I am somewhat confused with this phrase "modernization of the Philippines navy". How do you modernize with a 45 year old ship from the U.S?

    7. Bob M. says:

      Remember Subic Bay? As I recall, the Philippine government threw us out!

      • My two cents says:

        ever been to saudi? i have been. and cIark too. we dont behave that way in the middIe east because you know why?? you get your baIIs cut off! when you behave poorIy with your host dont expect kisses bob. i was there..i saw….we screwed up….

        • My two cents says:

          finaIIy, one more thing. my mother was interred at santo thomas…the fiIipino peopIe never forgot us. they where gracious hosts. They asked IittIe. If there ever is an aIIy in US history we owe it them. We kicked the spanish out and then we decided too make ourseIves at home (much to their dismay and surprise after they fought with us) Then we gave them marcos… sorry, If i was them i think i might be upset aIso. even given that we are stiII cIose. They asked us too Ieave and we did (it was the right thing too do) . Time now too readdress this reIationship. Friends argue from time too time.. Thats what this was. ha, we kiss ass too the germans and japanese and they kiIIed thousands of us. some where butchered Iike pigs. yet they are aIIies. your teIIing me a spat over some bases is worth sacrificing haIf the pacific too the chinese? Iets be reaI….

    8. vmelangham says:

      The Philippines, much the same as Japan, is our staunch ally and we need to address this at the highest level of our foreign aid policy… to find the ways and means to bolster their integrity within their territorial waters. To do anything less seems to me to be inviting China's continuing aggression towards the government of the P.I. We must have within our "mothball fleet" some serviceable warships with which we could in fact commit to the lend lease strategy which would help us both… we need to have somebody in the Defense Department assigned to this project (if one is not already in place, and if there is then that body must be directed to give this a top priority) begin at once to arrange for transfer of whatever is available – and I am not speaking of junk boats and outdated defense materials either. This is indeed a serious matter.

    9. rye says:

      sadly for the Philippines, weakness is provocation. that's why china behaves that way.

    10. Heno de Pravia says:

      The Philippines bases its claim on its proximity and the principle of terra nullius, which holds that it was previously unclaimed by a sovereign state, which is also applied by the Philippines in its claims to the Spratly Islands. By virtue of the PD No.1599 issued by President Ferdinand Marcos on June 1978, the Philippines claims an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) up to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the baselines from which their territorial sea is measured. In 2009, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo enacted the Philippine Baselines Law of 2009 (RA 9522). The new law classifies the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal as a regime of islands under the Republic of the Philippines.

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