Philippines agrees to US troops to hold off China threat to territory
AP/Stars & Stripes:
For a country that desperately needs help from the US to stave off Chinese aggression, the Philippines seems conflicted on allowing the US to bring its forces to the area. For the threat of force to be credible, the Philippines is going to have to accommodate the US. The United States and the Philippines have reached a 10-year pact that would allow a larger U.S. military presence in this Southeast Asian nation as it grapples with increasingly tense territorial disputes with China, according to two Philippine officials and a confidential government primer seen by The Associated Press on Sunday.
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which would give American forces temporary access to selected military camps and allow them to preposition fighter jets and ships, is due to be signed Monday at the Department of Defense in the Philippine capital, Manila, shortly before the arrival of President Barack Obama, the officials said. Obama's visit is the last leg of a four-country Asian tour that also took him to Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.
The two officials spoke with the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the pact ahead of its signing.
A Philippine government primer on the defense accord did not indicate how many additional U.S. troops would be deployed "on temporary and rotational basis," but it said that the number would depend on the scale of joint military activities to be held in Philippine camps.
Hundreds of American military personnel have already been deployed in the southern Philippines since 2002 to provide counterterrorism training and as advisers to Filipino soldiers, who have been battling Muslim militants for decades.
The Philippine Constitution bars permanent U.S. military bases. Under the agreement, a Filipino base commander would have access to entire areas to be shared with American forces, according to the primer.