Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of South, Southeastern, and Central Asia

The Republic of the Philippines and U.S. Interests-2014*

Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of South, Southeastern, and Central Asia

The Republic of the Philippines and U.S. Interests-2014*

Article excerpt

OVERVIEW

The United States and the Republic of the Philippines maintain close ties stemming from the U.S. colonial period (1898-1946), a history of extensive military cooperation, the bilateral security alliance bound by the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, and common strategic and economic interests. Other pillars of the bilateral bond include shared democratic values, enduring cultural affinities, and close people-to-people ties. Filipino-Americans number nearly four million, making them the second largest Asian-American group after Chinese-Americans, and comprise the largest foreign-born group in the U.S. armed forces.1 An estimated 150,000 Americans live in the Philippines.2 Despite general agreement on the importance of U.S.-Philippine relations, the potential for bilateral friction remains as interests and perceptions occasionally diverge regarding U.S. obligations under the alliance, Philippine sovereignty, human rights, trade, and other issues.

Although the United States closed its military bases in the Philippines in 1992 (Subic Naval Base and Clark Air Base), the two sides have maintained military cooperation through joint exercises and counterterrorism efforts aimed at maintaining inter-operability, addressing internal and external security threats, and achieving humanitarian objectives. Joint counterterrorism efforts, in which U.S. forces play a non-combat role, have helped to reduce terrorist threats in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago in the southern Philippines. Since 2012, the Philippines has played a key role in the Obama Administrationes "rebalance. of foreign policy priorities toward Asia, particularly as maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea have intensified. On November 16, 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. del Rosario signed the "Manila Declaration,. which reaffirmed the bilateral security relationship and called for multilateral talks to resolve maritime disputes in the region. The Obama Administration pledged greater security assistance to the Philippines as joint exercises began to focus on maritime security. In March 2014, the two sides held the fourth Bilateral Strategic Dialogue, in which they discussed Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda) recovery efforts, enhanced defense cooperation, economic ties, U.S. foreign aid programs, and other issues. During the past year, Washington and Manila have discussed the framework for an increased, non-permanent U.S. military presence in the Philippines. On April 22, 2014, President Obama departed on a week-long trip to Asia, with stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. In Manila, the two sides are expected to focus on issues related to growing military cooperation.

The Philippines is a vibrant democracy with a robust civil society. However, the country faces significant challenges to political stability and economic growth, including pervasive corruption, a weak judicial system, armed groups and insurgencies in parts of the country, extra-judicial killings committed by security forces, and violence against journalists. Under President Benigno Aquino III, the Philippine government has become somewhat more transparent and accountable, it has reached a settlement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the south, and the economy has experienced solid growth. However, the Philippines continues to struggle with corruption, poverty, localized political violence, and a "culture of impunity,. all of which continue to hinder development, feed political instability, and breed pockets of ideological extremism.

U.S. public and private support to the Philippines following Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which struck the central part of the country on November 8, 2013, bolstered the already strong bilateral relationship. Such assistance included approximately $87 million in U.S. disaster aid and $59 million in private sector contributions,3 a massive U. …

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