In 1991, the Philippines ordered the closure of two US military bases in its territory, the Subic Bay Naval Base and the Clark Air Base, following pressure from anti-US activists and the Philippine Senate. This move was seen as a significant blow to the US military's presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
However, in recent years, there has been a shift in the Philippines' approach to the US military presence. In 2014, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was signed between the Philippines and the United States, allowing for a larger and more regular US military presence in the Philippines. Under the agreement, the US military was granted access to several Philippine military bases.
One of these bases is the former US naval station in Subic Bay, which the Philippines recently reopened to the US military. This move has generated controversy within the Philippines, with some critics arguing that it violates the country's constitution and sovereignty.
So why did the Philippines decide to reopen the Subic Bay naval base to the US military?
One factor is the Philippines' ongoing territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea. China claims almost the entire South China Sea, including areas that are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan. The dispute has led to increased tensions and military buildups in the region.
The Philippines has traditionally relied on the US as its key security partner, but the country's military capabilities have been limited. By allowing the US military access to Philippine bases, the country is able to enhance its defense capabilities and deter potential aggressors, including China.
Another factor is the Philippines' relationship with the US. Despite occasional tensions, the US remains an important economic and military partner for the Philippines. The US is the Philippines' second-largest trading partner and largest source of remittances. The two countries also share a history of military cooperation, dating back to the US colonial period.
The reopening of the Subic Bay naval base to the US military is also seen as a way to boost economic development in the region. The base, which was once a major hub for US military operations in the Pacific, has the potential to attract investment and create jobs.
However, critics argue that the US military presence in the Philippines violates the country's sovereignty and puts it at risk of being dragged into conflicts that do not serve its interests. They also point to the US military's history of abuses in the Philippines, including the rape of a Filipino woman by US servicemen in 2005.
In conclusion, the decision to reopen the Subic Bay naval base to the US military is a complex one, with both strategic and economic factors at play. While the move may enhance the Philippines' defense capabilities and strengthen its relationship with the US, it also raises concerns about sovereignty and the potential risks of getting entangled in conflicts that do not serve the country's interests.