US tightens hold on the Philippines


THE PHILIPPINES further tightened its hold on the Philippines after the 8th Bi­la­te­ral Stra­te­gic Dia­lo­gue (BSD) between both countries was concluded last June 15-16. The annual BSD is conducted under US-Philippines Mu­tu­al Defen­se Tre­aty and is participated in by ranking officials of the US government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The US delegation was headed by Ambas­sa­dor Sung Kim, along with representatives of the Sta­te De­partment for East Asi­an and Pacific Affairs and De­partment of Defen­se for Indo-Pacific Secu­rity Affairs. Not only military, but also political and economic matters were discussed during the dialogue.

The US used the dialogue to further assert its power over Asia, especially amid its tension with China. It urged the Philippines to uphold the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) code of conduct to counter the claim of China over the disputed territory in the South China Sea. It was also agreed upon that the Philippines will participate in US freedom of navigation operations, through to project the latter’s strength through sailing warships and flying jetfighters within the territory of the country.

Bigger exercises will be conducted by the Philippine Army and US in the coming years. In the Salaknib 2020, the 1st Bri­ga­de Com­bat Team (BCT), founded by the US military in 2018 will be retrained. About 1,500 BCT soldiers and 1,700 US Army Pacific Command troopers will participate in the activity. Salaknib purportedly aims to enhance interoperability of US military commanders and AFP soldiers in conventional warfare and counterterrorism operations. “This is a preparation for large-scale conflicts,” said Phi­lip­pi­ne Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Ra­mon Za­ga­la.

Prior to the BSD, the US already allocated a $145.6 million aid for the AFP this 2019. This still excludes the share of the Philippine government from $1.5 billion military aid, recently approved by US Pre­si­dent Do­nald Trump for countries in the Asia-Pacific, for 2019-2023.

In conjuction with the BSD, the Ma­ri­ne Avia­ti­on Sup­port Activity (MASA) was also held at the Ma­ri­ne Ba­se Gre­go­rio Lim in Ter­na­te, Cavi­te. MASA is conducted twice a year and is participated in by the Marines and Air Force of the US and Philippines. MASA is one of the 280 military exercises which are scheduled to be conducted in the country this 2019.

US tightens hold on the Philippines